All the Lifters

All the Lifters



About the book

In this searing exploration of female sexuality Mazakian captures the intensity of obsession and desire in a voice that singes across the page as quickly as thought, with electrifying leaps from memory to reflection to immediate sense experience, encoding private cruelties, seduction, and the nightmarish reaches of psychic pain in language both visceral and fresh.

About the author

Mazakian, Esther

Esther Mazakian was born in Israel, and shortly after, moved to Toronto, where she has lived ever since. Her poems have appeared in several Canadian journals including, The Malahat Review, PRISM International, Event, and The Fiddlehead. Her poetry was an Editor's Choice in Arc's 2002 Arc Poem of the Year Contest and was winner of Prism's 2004 Earle Birney Prize for Poetry.


Bear This Brilliance Inside

Orthopaedic chair, books stacked for weeks untouched
but rifled-looking. A polar
headiness sealing her in her
master's hands. He was gone and she was yawing,
her balancing fingers thawing a crust of ice off the top of his desk—she bore this
hermitage inside like the pristine words he'd written,
eerie hieroglyphs across these
apartment walls,
classics carved into cranial bone.

Out the window a silent ischemic darkness


and her own italicized face,
his spy-
eyes on her metaphorically but still ablaze and on her
a spooky tree just bared for winter.


from: Little Mouldy Explosions In Their Daily Humidities How Like The Sight

Enormous and blackballed from the bird world ages ago adjusting her skinny legs her
skinny head falling back onto the bed that kept her so far from the floor, kept her
insomnia afloat. Her lips tight as an old woman's beak snapped shut in defiance after a
hundred years of silence, her eyes bigger than the brain in her head on in the night like
lights, lights on every night while she was showing the same show—


from: Spring Storm

to a blustery disruptive wind, rain fell
sideways and hit the porch in clean intervals,
as though on a timer. Racing
to the bedroom to shut the window,
she witnessed lightning strike the tree next door,
a giant limb crack, drop,
the cable line loosen, swing.


October. And her mind drifted
to last spring when she turned thirty officially


traded places with her father. A knack for saying the wrong thing, she rode
a liquor rampage like a twister lasting
weeks, flew at people in floods
of disorder,


from: All The Lifters

Time was he'd lift her into the air and toss her,
making her laugh for the camera.
And she loved falling into him,
the neat fit of him that was not her mother. So thrilled falling
into him, her arms would lift,
lift with a fear pure,
and her body would tremble
with panic,
delight at the sight of his face out of time, coming in, going out,
coming in to her,
her wet mouth open in a V—
She'd fallen into his life by accident. So
she learned to remember everything,
learned early about the women
he picked up, how to capture their faces
before they were gone. To be a woman, his to toss
in the air, unafraid,
free, free, free-for-the-taking.


In Esther Mazakian's All the Lifters, a long series of lyric poems recounts a woman's unsatisfactory marriage to an older man and her more satisfying (if ultimately destructive) affair with a much younger one. Most of the book unfolds in… >>

University of Toronto Quarterly

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