USEREVIEW 063 (Capsule): Side Effects May Include Strangers

Manahil Bandukwala/ February 2, 2022/ Book Review, Capsule Review

Dominik Parisien
Side Effects May Include Strangers (McGill-Queens University Press, 2020)
ISBN 978-0-22800-357-1 | 96 pp | $17.95 CAD — BUY Here


What Dominik Parisien’s debut poetry collection Side Effects May Include Strangers (McGill-Queens University Press, 2020) is sometimes painful, sometimes angry and always full of tenderness. Echoing themes of Parisien’s 2018 chapbook, We, Old Young Ones (Frog Hollow Press), Side Effects explores what it means to live, love and move through an ableist world. Parisien is skilled at connecting metaphors to whimsy, which creates a wondrous and expansive effect. For example, in ‘Picture Book,’ he writes: “Imagine a picture book of pain: // could we call this ache a cactus, a chinchilla, / a diamond, or that ill a mole rat, a rainbow, / a nebula?” Parisien writes against the notion that disability is always serious and negative through his descriptions of beauty and the tender language of care. In another poem that stands out, ‘My Partner Makes of Me a Poem,’ he writes “I mean all of you is beautiful / but this rib here should really be a jewel / around my neck.” In Side Effects May Include Strangers, Parisien affirms that disability and beauty live and thrive in the same space rather than being the separate entities the outside world presumes them to be.

Recommended excerpt:

‘After Convulsing in Public’ skilfully blends metaphor, experience, and imagery as Parisien writes a reclamation of the body. The trust and care of intimacy blossoms outwards, as it does throughout the collection:

Sex is then the privilege of choosing
who participates in the choreography
of my limbs. My partner’s hands
become a knife, carving other fingers from my skin
to help me shape myself again.

Manahil Bandukwala is a visual artist and writer. Her most recent work is a collaborative piece with Liam Burke, titled Orbital Cultivation, out now with Collusion Books. She is Coordinating Editor for Arc Poetry and Digital Content Editor for Canthius. She is a member of VII, an Ottawa-based creative writing collective. More:

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