Review by Candice Daquin

by Myna Wallin


Tightrope Books
17 Greyton Cres.
Toronto, Ontario M6E 2G1
ISBN 0-9738645-3-2
CAN $14.95 USA $12.95

If you didn't know anything of Myna Wallin's prodigious life and purchased her first non-chapbook, A Thousand Profane Pieces, for its erotic shocking-pink cover, missing Wallin's mesmerizing pre-Raphaelite face on the sleeve, would her raw sensuality and sharp ice-skating wit have the same allure? Yes, because understanding Wallin's migration avows itself from within the temple of her poetry. You don't need to sit down and drink coffee with this sable siren to reach inside and examine her center; emotions present themselves to you in curtsey and feckless abandon with the poetess herself, riding a wild horse by its mane.
Myna Wallin isn't a new or "trendy" poet; she doesn't belong to the preppy nouveau riche generation. She writes with the piquant tongue of a woman steeped in her own juice, her observations are more languid than tamely lyric, she doesn't do pithy, popular or pretend; she opens her heart and renders a landscape in her own blood all with the artful awareness of an English major. She isn't precious or too careful, and it would be too easy to say she's a female Bukowski, but her words can taste like an exultant Anne Sexton, with mixes of raw sexuality and the insight of maturing. Unafraid to change and swap out styles, some of the poems are just "pretty", like Transcendence, or carefully poignant, like The Angel Effect. Others written on the cusp of youth like Classified. Some are clever in a 60's Beats poet style; This Is My Beer Commercial exemplifies this well:"This is my beer commercial / & I don't have to apologize / for turning men into sex objects."
Wallin is sagacious in her ascertainment: "As soon as a breakup is complete / each new ex shifts in position." But it's not her word-smart wit and charm that captivates the reader or the more predictable among her poetry, but a glimmering image that lodges like a glow bug in the mind long after reading; that potent play of words marking Wallin not just an scrupulous observer but mystic of human malady: "After the 6th or 7th bottle, / We expose our neurosis, each by each." Her way of jumbling moments together to convey a deeper meaning;: "elf-revelation is the game, / so I throw a bone-- / something about acrylic paint / & a thing for trumpet players." Wallin's thinking is so exquisitely non-linear in a strange way she comes full circle in her translation of emotions.
An Object Lesson conveys the image of a woman degraded, overtly sexual, words that despite your inner moral, lead to unwilling sexual tension and diffuse into sharp parody: "She gives it up to enroll / in school--her professor of Moral Philosophy propositions her and she's back to the mirror / to guess what she's worth," In Resurrections, Wallin chronicles a visitation from her deceased parents: "my mother returns to visit, / her cancer healed. / We talk for a bit & she whispers / Don't tell your father I was here." Those fervent moments of imagination seem alive and real, Wallin's memories of those she loved, carefully articulated and given voice.
However where the book soars, are found in those superlative gems tucked among the other very good poems. Treasures that reach beyond our expectations of poetic flight and take even the seasoned reader by surprise. In Love, Wallin juxtaposes a spelling bee test with love in such a humorous and agile way she makes it look effortless: "ETERNITY. Perspiring, you looked stymied, / bewildered even, / and I felt sorry for you. / You weren't expecting such hard words." It's the savvy use of her memories transposed into the future to show the inadequacy of love and absurdity and lure of modern-living. She mocks and pays homage at the same time, with beautiful daydreams, episodes of insight dotted with rich imagery and wildness that streak ravishing images across the page.
Mid-Life Crisis In Ft. Lauderdale and its prologue, Mid-Life Crisis In Ft. Lauderdale--Revisited are entertaining, describing the minutia and little fits and starts through life: "It's time for Botox but I can't make the leap / from dabbing on makeup to freezing / muscles, lines of experience." Gruelingly honest, without pretension or affectation, Wallin is like a well-read lover, able to pick out those sublime sensations and show them along with the debris in equal revere. "She's a ripe pomegranate, / straining against the pith." Her words offer the radiance of the feminine with a wisdom beyond youth but mindful of its bewitching loveliness: "We hear how some students, on work-study programs / return disillusioned, at least one suicide attempt per term. / They cannot reconcile third-world misery with the beauty / of this idyll."
Wallin is as any poet should be, the observer of things too painful and exquisite to paint in prose, her raw voice screams: "take me, with all my / unmet expectations, overblown desires, / & make me scream. Overwhelm my / intellectualized craving to be loved." Combining what she knows with what she's learned and feels, her perspective reaches all corners of the human psyche. Wallin's gift is an ability to talk for us, of our unspoken horrors, her voice more pure than jaded, unsullied and seeking higher reaches. She is unnervingly accurate about humanity and also a sensual tour-de-force of our plunder into addiction, passion and the eloquent play of generational, universal anxiety: "I want to be one of these women-in-control, / But I was born too early-- / never mastered 'walk the dog' on my yo-yo."



Candice Daquin is a French-born Psychotherapist and Writer living and working in Canada. Daquin is also a published poet, trained dancer and avid supporter of volunteer work; helping disenfranchised women through deed and word. In her spare time Daquin paints and consumes large quantities of poetry and eggs for breakfast.




Note: Reviews may not necessarily reflect the opinions of RATTLE's editors and staff.