Book Review

of is by Aisha Sasha John

i read some local poetry

I started working recently in a hip independent events venue here in Canada, and one of the first events held here was a hip, contemporary cabaret-like evening of music and poetry curated by someone who I’ve never heard of, who is apparently one of those many “world famous in Canada” types.

Unfortunately, I didn’t watch the show (though by all reports it was amazing), seeing only a tiny amount of it (there were more complex things for me to manage outside of the auditorium space, innit), but I did get to spend time perusing the artist’s merchandise table set up in the lobby before I disappeared into the bone-shakingly cold Canadian night. On that table I found this, of is by Aisha Sasha John. It was $5, so I bought it.

of is is a poetry newsletter, newspaper. I’m uncertain how the poet/designer would like it to be nouned, but it’s a two sided, four paged, piece of newspaper (tabloid) size paper that contains a big title page with like a spacey image upon it, then three pages of poetry.

Given the sizing and the spacing, it’s essentially poetry of a [short] chapbook length, and it’s definitely an enjoyable piece.

As I said before, I didn’t see Aisha Sasha John perform, but I imagine that this writing – frank, direct, lyrical but emotionally expressive – would have worked well in that mode.

of is is about many different topics (as are all but the shittest and/or shortest of poems), many of which are ripe and rich topics for poetic exploration. I should go into more detail, but I’m tiiiiired.

Some of my favourite lines include:

  • ORGANIC DAIRY WILL NOT GIVE ME PIMPLES / ODE TO KEFIR FORTHCOMING
  • MY RAGE MODELS HAVE BEEN MALE RAPPERS
  • PEOPLE WHO SOAK THEIR GRAPES AND RASPBERRIES
  • I DON’T CARE ABOUT ALIENS ANYMORE OR WHO THEM IS OR WHY
  • ANTIDEPRESSANT OCTAVIA BUTLER / OPTIMISM BIAS

Anyway.

I’m tired. I’ve been working like 12 hour days the last few days. I haven’t exercised since the middle of last week or eaten anything nutritious (other than the remnants of the six-day-old quinoa and bean chilli I made in bulk) for even longer.

I was out at work for so long yesterday that my dog shat in the house. He looked ashamed when I arrived home, but I wasn’t angry or disappointed: I had let him down.

It was my failure, not Cubby’s.

This attitude applies too, to managing a hospitality space. When staff make a mistake that is the fault of equipment or a lack of training/procedural clarity – which pretty much all mistakes in those situations are – then it is my fault, or another manager’s: it is never theirs.

My dog shitting all over the kitchen is like when the [work related problem] happened earlier: it was my fault for not preventing it from happening, and thus it was my responsibility to make the problem go away, which I did in both cases.

I’m not trying to be denigrating by saying that humans are like dogs, but I’m trying to clarify my opinions about levels of responsibility/accountability. It’s over a year since I was last been a manager in a venue, and it’s important to me to not apportion blame unfairly. I’ve spent enough time in non-managerial roles to know that someone getting annoyed at you for “doing something wrong” that they didn’t explain how to do is enraging, and I don’t ever want to make someone feel shame or guilt when an “error” they have made is actually an error I have made. When my dog shits in the flat, it is my fault, not his.

OK.

of is is a nice wedge of poetry. I’d read more by the poet. As I’ve said before, I should probably try and engage with the poetry scene in the city I live in, but I know probably won’t though, I’ll just continue working, exercising, reading and occasionally writing poems to avoid the screaming panic attacks that happen whenever I pause for self-reflection. Lol. 

I am lacking in motivation to do anything that matters.

of is is designed by Emerson Maxwell


Download my weird live album via Bandcamp.

Order my raucous poetry collection via Open Pen.

Order my sad prose chapbook via Selcouth Station Press.


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