Damian Rogers is a Social Menace

Off the Page Festival welcomes Damian Rogers Thursday, November 3rd, in Concordia’s Grey Nuns Building (1175 Rue St Mathieu), room M100, starting at 7:30pm.

Damian Rogers is a social person. “I will talk to someone for hours, no problem. I’m good to talk, as they say,” Rogers recently told Trevor Corkum of 49thshelf.com. The same is true of her page. To read her books, Dear Leader (Coach House Books, 2015) and Paper Radio (ECW Press, 2009), is not at all like small talk. A testament to the absorptive power of her work is that hours of enjoyment will occur before one realizes the time. To finish her books poses the problem: what now? The solution is to re-read her work as if for the first time. As Rogers asks in “The Trouble with Wormholes” (Rogers, 23):

How many times must I learn the lesson of compression?
Let go of everything you know and start from scratch.

 

Damian Rogers’ work is menacing. Where her voice is accessible, her style, inviting, and her subjects, familiar, her themes challenge the reader’s sense of safety. Familiar objects – roller skates, pantsuits, soap dishes, and sweaters – lay alongside sensory descriptions of dreams, homes, and childhoods. Desires are addressed in association to these objects and sensations, such as the man and spider in “Poem for Love” who respectively “dreams of a red telephone that will only ring for him” or wishes for a “frame upon which to hitch his home” (Rogers, 48). Neither character will realize their desire. A common theme in Rogers’ work is, then, to remind us that life is a series of struggles wherein we often fail to reach our own desires. Life is gritty, we are imperfect, and we lack control to change course. To read Rogers’ work is to feel threatened by the reminder of what we don’t always see ourselves: That there is no escape from our imperfections but through catharsis. In this respect, Rogers’ work is as refreshing in its honesty and menacing in theme as it is creative in its composition. As she writes in “Storm” (Rogers, 18).

We live in
the arteries
of a large
ugly animal
and I saw
it move.

 

Damian Rogers is the editor of The Walrus and Anansi Press, creative director of “Poetry in Voice,” and the literary curator and co-host of The Basement Review performance series.

Damian Rogers is a hell of a poet.

From Dear Leader:

POEM FOR DEATH

‘Politicians, in my eyes, ruin our best chances
of making this work,’ said the man running for mayor.

Once they wondered, ‘Where do we go from here?’
And here is as far as they got.

‘If I start freaking out over this spill, I’ll never stop,’
said the oil can. ‘I want to get back to my wife.’

‘You’re a prisoner,’ said the snow leopard to the bank teller.
‘You’ll be the last of our kind to be free.’

‘Let the world turn,’ said the witch,
‘as if it would do so without you.’

‘That feels amazing,’ said the rock ‘n’ roll victim,
as he bled from his head. ‘Do it again.’

What can I say? I can’t wait to meet the future beasts that keep
on knocking from the other side of that big red door.

Don’t miss Damian Rogers with Suzanne Buffam and Sarah Burgoyne.
7:30, November 3rd, Grey Nuns Building M100, 1175 Rue St Mathieu

Rogers, Damian. Dear Leader. Toronto: Coach House, 2015. Print.

– Johnathan F. Clark

 

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