USEREVIEW 124 (Capsule): Continuity Errors
Continuity Errors (Coach House Books, 2023)
ISBN: 978-1-55245-459-6 | 80 pp | $23.95 CAD | BUY Here
Capitalism, climate change, feminism and the gender binary — Catriona Wright’s Continuity Errors responds to these topics with dry humour and a vivid parade of aliens, robots, fae, and more though is still incredibly serious in its message. In this, her second poetry collection, Wright plays with the absurdity of the world we live in, having written the collection with the intent to closely examine the world she has brought her new baby into.
This collection has convinced me that absurdist works are the best way to address this ridiculous world of ours. Absurd with absurd, and so it must be. For instance, Wright highlights the ridiculous practices of corporate businesses in ‘Deposition,’ wherein employees are invited to lay in a coffin because they need “to accept / their limitless potential. As you know, / things get in the way: fear, family, rest.” ‘Innovation’ examines how newer generations are encouraged to distance themselves from human weakness in order to be a working cog in the machine of capitalism: “They forget to eat, and when the tears / splash onto control, delete, they try goggles … It’s a simple matter of separating mass: keyboard from human weakness” to keep up ‘the hustle’ despite fatigue or burnout — there’s no time for such things. Both poems show how productivity culture is toxic by presenting examples that seem ludicrous but aren’t far from the reality of our society.
This is a thought-provoking collection with the excitement of fantasy and sci-fi mashed together with an examination of current issues. One can see Wright’s concern for the world she’s bringing her child into — it’s one where productivity is prioritized over care and well-being, where kings can and will destroy the ozone and where it seems best for the aliens to take you back as one of their own. Maybe with the critical work done in this collection, we are taking a step toward shedding the negative social structures holding us back, those preventing us from creating a world we’re proud to pass on to future generations.
A poem from the collection that most aptly represents much of the tone in Continuity Errors is ‘Notes Toward an Anthropocene Fable at a Russian Sauna in Mississauga.’ It is a scene in itself, a tableau, but also takes the reader through the speaker’s thoughts and concerns regarding the inequity surrounding her. It juxtaposes fable-like content with realistic description of the sauna and reminds the reader how close to home issues like the climate crisis or the power dynamics that allow the rich to neglect their social and moral responsibilities really are. It also has lovely lines like “plucked gold croaks from toad throats” which are phonetically delightful and create a rhythmic feel.