COME AND SHOW ME our various forms of leaving. By boat, by foot, by the flash of our thumbs. By storm, by nightfall, by the infant hours. Play me the heave of a train horn pushing through the dark. Show me how a railway crossing rises as easily and slowly as a dancer lifting one leg. Show me the silent lightning, as if the sky surrendered, and we're waiting for ash. Tell me that someone has already seen this and is still looking up. Tell me how to prepare for the weather next Saturday. Tell me how to reduce stories to their simplest parts . . .
from Peeling Rambutan, Gaspereau Press, April 2014
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Peeling Rambutan traces a young poet's journey into the interior of China, a place where "religion is a game of telephone and illumination," where epiphany is found in ancestral kitchens. Sze shows us a luminous, lyric landscape where old village vendors ride into Shanghai singing in rhyming couplets. What a beautiful, unforgettable trip reading this book is!
—MARY DI MICHELE
Gillian Sze's Peeling Rambutan is an unforgettably vivid collection, combining her characteristic intimacy with subjects and a gut-punching instinct to get it across. Richly detailed with uncommon knowledge and observance, poised in articulation and always present. Gillian Sze is one of our most enchanting poets.
Gillian Sze's voice is so assured and so clear. She sets out to explore where she is from, where "Here can't be found on a map," and then sends the images our way. She records, and then tattles in the best of ways: with curiosity and awe and humour. I felt at times that I was reading a novelist writing brilliant poetry. That is to say, these poems are busy with story. I loved them.
Gillian Sze's sensuous, precisely-observed poems trace her identity across cultures, eras and continents, weaving together scraps of family lore, visits to changing landscapes, the smell of Malaysian fruits and Canadian snow. Her far-flung home, often in the air, often lonely and built from memory is of a sort many of us share. The poems in Peeling Rambutan enlarge our sense of who we are.