Shortlisted for the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize (www.griffinpoetryprize.com), “Short Haul Engine” was Karen Solie’s first poetry collection. The voice in many of the poems is that of someone who is tough, self reliant but also lonely and wistful. (Phrases like “heart wagging its little tail” are surprising and touching.) The fresh attention to the mundane details of life – driving and engaging in other activities in a car, watching an in-flight movie, drinking shots – is at times almost startling.
From the poem Sturgeon:
On an afternoon mean as a hook we hauled him
up to his nightmare of us and laughed
at his ugliness, soft sucker mouth opening,
closing on air that must have felt like ground glass,
left him to die with disdain
for what we could not consume.
And when he began to heave and thrash over yards of rock
to the water’s edge and, unbelievably, in,
we couldn’t hold him though we were teenaged
and bigger than everything. Could not contain
the old current he had for a mind, its pull,
and his body a muscle called river, called spawn.