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Pause :: Heartbeat

By Joy Waller

Poetry which expertly shares the Beat impulse. Sexy as Kazuko Shiraishi & euphoric as Ken Kesey. Yet these poems are stripped to the bone—directly expressed. When the author orally reads her work, she subtly pays attention to spaces & so shall you dear reader.

“She's rocking the sexual & cultural revolution with impeccable craft, irony, wit, and a woman's voice.” —Leah Ann Sullivan, founder of the Nagoya Writers Group Open Reading series

“Something pure and fragile in the midst of grimly damagingly real unyielding circumstances... These poems have an Icarus hubris and an ethereal eroticism about them.” —Duncan Whom, delicate delinquent and queer art cabaret chameleon

“Sticky and gritty and succulent language.” —Sorcha Chisholm, singer, musician, and co-creator of Drunk Poets See God

There are 41 poems in this book and the themes bounce mostly around sex and solitude. The pauses between those two states are what I’m interested in. On the one hand there’s this intense interest—often playful—in the carnal details of being a human (orgasms, various stimulants, fingertips, men), and then on the other there’s a profound wish to drop out and exist weightless in one’s own head, own body, own apartment, own bed. How to reconcile those two extremes? I’ve tried to do that in the collection by bursting into and fully inhabiting brief flashes of experience. You can do this yourself by listening to your own heartbeat, your own breath—using that rhythm as a road map. One of the poems is about a timeline snapping and while the experience conveyed is one of terror, I find a lot of peace in the idea of rejecting a life lived in lines, in a linear way; instead, experiencing it organically, zoomed in on whatever instant you choose. So in that sense this collection can represent a grounding experience, a tethering of the body to something concrete even though much of the mind is consumed by the astral. Love hotels, cups of coffee, street angels, seaweed, stray men, record players, cigarettes—all that stuff is a certain level of real, and I throw myself into it like an offering.  

Joy Waller was raised in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada and spent her young adulthood on Vancouver Island. She received a BFA in Writing from the University of Victoria in 2005. Since 2006, she has been based in Tokyo, Japan, where she works as a writer and editor.

From this book:

Off-Center

Shibuya Dawn Sketches II