BC Poetry 2016: "Buoyancy Control" by Adrienne Gruber (BookThug)


Drink it slow, says the girl who takes you
on her Vespa along the freeways of Manhattan, who dresses
all in black, face a sharp-eyed cat. Oyster juice
dribbles down her chin and she catches it with a napkin. Can you
taste it?
she asks, and you nod, not at all sure what she means.
The ocean, she says. Now close your eyes, and you do.
Sip the salty water, granules of the shell roll around
in your mouth. Nibble the oyster like touching tongues.
Open your eyes. She tilts her head back and pours the fleshy
meat down her throat. A bathtub made of marble, legs stretched
in lukewarm, the girl sprawled against your solid frame. It is this
and every image like it that prevents you from moving forward.
You take a cautious bite, pulp against your teeth. The summer
in Tofino, the afternoon at Long Beach, your face dry and sunburnt.
Find shells and smell their insides. Musky. The girl’s eyes watch
your mouth as you chew small plump bites. You can’t bear
to swallow something so raw, so full of life.


Adrienne Gruber is the author of the poetry collection This is the Nightmare (2008; shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry) and three chapbooks: Intertidal Zones (2014), Mimic (2012; winner of a bpNichol Chapbook Award), and Everything Water (2011). Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Grain, Event, Arc Poetry Magazine, Poetry is Dead, and Plenitude. She has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Awards in poetry, Descant’s Winston Collins Best Canadian Poem Contest, and twice for Arc’s Poem of the Year Contest. Her poem “Gestational Trail” was awarded first prize in The Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest in 2015. Gruber lives in Vancouver with her partner Dennis and their two daughters.


Buoyancy Control presents a fascinating culmination of land and sea, mind and body, in linguistic form. Metaphors of oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water (as well as the creatures that inhabit those spaces), swim and swirl their way through Gruber’s languid poems, which are divided into two evocative sections that explore themes of sexuality, sexual identity, and queerness, while confronting the feelings of loss and longing found in relationships, and the chance glimpse into a new life, while still recovering from a painfully failed connection.

Buoyancy Control is an honest, at times humorous, and revealing look inside the mind and body of a woman manoeuvring through experiences of longing, loss, and the fluidity of sexual identity, presented in a powerfully feminist and unapologetic poetic voice, from one of Canada’s most promising young writers.

“Densely, disturbingly erotic, Adrienne Gruber’s Buoyancy Control is not a book for the faint of heart. Gruber’s erotic reach encompasses the world entire, from undersea creatures to the human body of the beloved. No Hallmark sweetness in this collection—here is a fierce, wet, pulsing hunger, though there is an acute sensitivity in these observations, whether of childbirth, cold-water swimming, or other moments of convulsion and transformation so powerful that they transcend intellect. Here are poems that burst like fireworks, ‘all thought blasted into the night sky.’” — Rachel Rose


Arrived April 5th, 2016.


Book Launches: Vancouver launch June 2016 (exact date TBA).

Purchases: The BookThug website, at AllLitUp.ca, or at your local bookstore. $18.


Culminating land and sea.

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.

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