THE SOUTHEAST REVIEW
About the Work February 2021
From their group-minded behavior to their pilfering habits in the early spring, bees are such arcane little insects with lots of gut, sometimes literally, when they sting. In short, bees are exemplary of mother nature’s governing principle by which every species evolves towards improvement: we’re to bring together and retain whatever traits, however seemingly incompatible, to ensure the continuance of our species. Bees’ way of seeing, migrant behavior, aversion, sense of community, what looks to be a sacrificial defense tactic, what they covet, even their rough form of democracy, and their bizarre and exclusive mating rituals in stark contrast with their largely asexual population—all these rich, meticulous, and even seemingly contradictory details of their being rule and keep the world of bees prospering, as if their genetics are almost sentient themselves and keenly aware of the future of the entire species continuing indefinitely beyond the present . . .
The Missouri Review
Poem of the Week May 14 2020
“Friend, Whatever You’re Thinking” came out of a late-night, drunk conversation with a friend of mine, Yuki Tanaka, who is a wonderful poet. In our most honest, vulnerable moments of friendship, conversations tend to revolve around the old disappointments that linger in the back of our mind. What began as a rather empathetic poem, however, quickly transformed into a contemplation on the imperfections, irony, and unwavering cycle of life, and a celebration of it. Life seems to be an act of wading through so many could-have-beens and might-have-beens past a certain point, and especially the imaginative minds seem to be in the habit of readily allowing it. But it never ceases to amaze me how life continues on, warped as it might be by disappointment and dread, driven always by hope . . .
The Malahat Review
Winter 2020: Issue #209
Iain: I really enjoyed reading your poem, “After Her Mother’s Funeral Mother Calls Me into the Kitchen.” One of the first things that struck me in reading it was how the poem surprises the reader, quietly at first (“soft as eels bathing in whiskey”), then increasingly openly (“prying apart my lungs”). The title suggests some sort of revelation to come—maybe of a dark family secret, maybe of a new expression of a mother’s love in the face of her loss—but what a reader gets is something entirely unexpected, a viscerally shocking scene that is not for the faint of heart or the queasy-stomached. Is this poetics of unexpectedness — even of surprise — characteristic of your work generally, or were you attempting something new here?
To answer it simply, yes. You’ll find aesthetics—or elements—of surprise typical of my work. My mind tends to wander a lot when working on a poem, and usually ends up in unexpected, often dark places. Even a poem like “After Her Mother’s Funeral Mother Calls Me into the Kitchen,” which is among my most personal poems, veers far from its origin in the end . . .