In the Bowl of My Eye

Mawenzi House. May 2022. 96p. ISBN 9781774150696. pap. $20.95. POETRY
Mumbai-born, Armenian and Anglo Indian by heritage, and Canadian by long residence, theater critic and poet Garebian (Poetry Is Blood), in his ninth poetry collection, rejects any conventions of rural or pastoral poetry in favor of a hard-eyed look at “suburban Mississauga” (a Canadian city near Toronto), scrutinizing “real people from real life, often crystallized by gestures.” Garebian indeed often has the eye of a social critic, to the point of satire, though some readers will find his outlook verging on the stereotypical, even offensive; he is ready with terms like spinster and tranny, and the gay men who appear in his poems are always “cruising” in the bushes. Beyond the cynical jabs is a poet who reaches for transcendence—“I dream unity/ in what I know of textures,/ weathers, structures/ issuing from a matrix/ of everyday life”—and the alert Garebian is a reader not just of his neighborhood; poets and writers such as Virginia Woolf, Ocean Vuong, and Anne Carson get respectful nods or citations.
VERDICT The award-winning Garebian (including honors from the Scarborough Arts Council and the Ontario Poetry Society) offers a distinctive perspective on modern life that may well prove of interest to a number of readers.
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