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

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