USEREVIEW 051: A Landscape of Time
Pictures apparently being worth a thousand words, Manahil Bandukwala uses three paintings to do justice to Selina Boan’s debut poetry collection Undoing Hours (Nightwood Editions, 2021) in this visually arresting experimental review.
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Selina Boan’s poetry is the kind to draw you in and live within the words, and her debut poetry collection Undoing Hours is no different. The collection weaves together language and landscape. Boan poetically writes about the act of learning and reclaiming nêhiyawêwin. There is a sense of intimacy and care towards friends and roommates that resonates strongly across the poems.
In this review, I interpret Boan’s vivid imagery through visual art. The inks I used to make the artwork are natural inks made from vegetable scraps and foraged flowers, including yellow onion, hibiscus, goldenrod and red cabbage. Just as Boan connects ecology to language and communication, I use inks made from found pigments as a mode of visual communication.
The images themselves come from lines throughout Undoing Hours that speak to the overall intimacy and language of the collection. The poem, ‘ongoing conversations with my acne’ opens with the lines: “u are like a once-known animal in the sky / of my face, a pattern of bloated stars // running the territory of my cheeks / in wolf form.” Boan captures a teenage experience as something literally universal by reimagining acne as cosmic.
A later poem, ‘inside this hour / another hour inside / another hour’ reads “in the field of hours that hangs between us.” Circling back around to the title of the collection, Undoing Hours, this poem spreads time out and imagines what a landscape of time would look like.
The third illustration comes from the long poem ‘all you can is the best you can.’ The theme of undoing appears throughout this poem, and I take multiple images and lines to visually depict an unraveling;
undo word after word
that tumbles out a sidewalk
the science that renders
undo your own heart, pull each vein
like unthreading a needle
Undoing Hours is a stunning collection of poetry in which each line in each poem gives out a feeling of care and kinship.