Review of Signs of Subversive Innocents
“Cora Siré’s outstanding debut has material for several books. Her subjects include travel, exile, geology, works of art, and Latin American history. The travel poems are not quick tourist snapshots: she has an impressive knowledge of Vietnam, and her poems about Argentina’s sad history have tragic depth. The personal themes – diasporic dislocation, the struggles of love – are as piercing as the quena, the Andean flute that she writes about in a poem of brilliant metaphoric phrases, the equivalents of musical notes.
Her poem “Zeitgeist,” which is illustrated on the cover, describes an artist cycling through a dreary December cityscape carrying a large canvas that bears a work of art created in a “generous space.” In spite of the masculine pronoun given to “this guy,” he seems a reflection of the poet herself. The generous space of this book is filled with formal ingenuity, ranging from rhymed stanzas to glosas based on the writing of the Uruguayan poet, Delmira Agustini. Her tour de force is a double ethere, a tribute to Leonardo da Vinci best read, she says, from the bottom up and from right to left. Da Vinci used mirror writing as a code, which makes the tribute appropriate. Occasionally her rhymes are excessive – sounds placed too close together or too strained to work – but these are excesses of exuberance. Her range includes the plaintive Andean flute, but she commands an orchestra.”
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“Cora Siré well expresses the chosen journey into the unknown of current Canadian poetry. Her work takes us on a descent into reality with its inevitable dread and then rewards us with the lift, an exhilarating release that surprises and deepens our perceptions. Here we encounter enlightenment and the triumph of creative joy.”