A Buckrider Book | Wolsak and Wynn
Claire Caldwell’s poems are like sleeper cells parked in the fraught organism that is middle-class North America. From its unvarnished assessment of the cost of Timothy Treadwell’s hubris to its measured empathy for the largest mammals on the planet, Invasive Species confronts the reader with a thoughtful, vivid assault on the senses. For Caldwell the lure of the natural – and the fascination of the civilized – is coloured by an awareness that we are simultaneously part of, and apart from, the living things around us. This is a carefully worked, entirely welcome debut from a precociously wise new voice.
Invasive Species sets out into the wilderness with a keen eye for detail and a brilliant ear for language that’s blessedly free of poetic clichés – for this is an eternal, essential landscape that doesn’t need any fluffing up. As Caldwell says, ‘In grizzly country, there’s myth/but no metaphor.’ Though inevitable, her depiction of nature’s overthrow of the ego in poem after poem surprises – and even entertains. This is an exciting new voice that expands the possibilities of poetry through its humour and unique intelligence.
Claire Caldwell’s images and descriptions can be so apt that it becomes impossible to consider her subjects without recalling her words. By times striking, surprising and beautiful, Invasive Species is, above all, memorable. When next you think of whales, it will be her words that you think.