USEREVIEW 110 (Capsule): arrhythmia

Manahil Bandukwala/ February 8, 2023/ Book Review, Capsule Review

Natalie Lim
arrhythmia (Rahila’s Ghost Press, 2022)
ISBN 978-1-98946-313-0 | 32 pp | $12.00 CAD | BUY Here


Natalie Lim’s debut poetry chapbook, arrhythmia (Rahila’s Ghost Press, 2022) shares the same name as Lim’s CBC Poetry Prize-winning poem, but this is an astounding collection that shows Lim’s growth as a poet since winning the prize. Lim’s writing is breathless, seen from opening poem, ‘How do you tell someone you’ve written a poem about them.’ Here, Lim writes: “the white space, the caesura, the way my wanting breathes through just so — you taught me that.” In Lim’s poems, love and desire go beyond what is present in the words. Desire is in the spaces between words. The whole page is a poem, and the whole page desires. In the titular poem ‘Arrhythmia,’ Lim questions how we learn and don’t learn the stories of our families, while in ‘One-Poem Wonder’ she scrutinizes prize culture and pressures on poets to live up to expectations of what they have already written. The question in ‘Six Months and Counting,’ asks: “they say there are still good people in this world. / I wonder if I am one of them,” something I always wonder, too. This is a chapbook that sheds expectations and instead lives where the poet wants it to live. Poems are full of tenderness mixed with anxiety for the future, which is incredibly relatable as a young person wanting to give the world love but being anxious about what a future can even look like in the current climate and state of the world.

Recommended excerpt:

‘Rattle on Home’ (p. 12) is a gentle poem about love, and how we experience love without having to name it as love. The speaker thinks about love on the way home, and how “we can sit in this quiet / and name it whatever you want.”

Manahil Bandukwala is a writer and visual artist. Her debut poetry collection is MONUMENT (Brick Books, 2022). More:

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