USEREVIEW 064 (Capsule): Sample Platter

Manahil Bandukwala/ February 9, 2022/ Book Review, Capsule Review

Vannessa Barnier
Sample Platter (Gap Riot Press, 2021)
ISBN 978-1-77746-203-1 | 22 pp | $10 CAD — BUY Here


Vannessa Barnier’s debut poetry chapbook, Sample Platter is honest, absurd and hilarious. Told in prose-poem style anecdotes, Barnier captures everyday moments of life with a sharp introspection. Barnier encounters various people throughout the stories: a therapist, a partner, convenience store workers, friends and more. There is an intimacy of shared moments with each one that settles in and lingers throughout the chapbook. It’s difficult to excerpt poems to read because so many of the poems in Sample Platter need to be read in their entirety for the power of each phrase Barnier writes to sink in. In the short poem ‘Spaghetti,’ Barnier writes: “I tell my therapist that I want a perfectly smooth brain without the lumpy ridges / She says, ‘do you mean like spaghetti down to your ankles?’ / And I did not say unravel, but I do like where she went with the idea.” A poem such as ‘Spaghetti’ captures what’s most striking about Sample Platter: it feels as though Barnier understands you, the reader, as an individual with all your anxieties and nerves about the general fears of moving through the real world.

Recommended excerpt:

‘Pizza Lung’ is a hilariously named poem in which Barnier begins by writing about choking on a slice of pizza and ends with a melancholy thought on life and living. The weight of such a moment can only settle so deeply after Barnier descriptively delves into the experience of having pizza in your lungs.

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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