Kimiko Hahn’s “Brain Fever”: a review

In her full-length collection Brain Fever, Kimiko Hahn makes use of a luminously diverse array of poetic techniques and approaches in order to speak to Japanese aesthetics, contemporary neuroscience, and the complexities and fragilities of modern life. With a sharp, concise and at times experimental tone, Hahn synthesizes her disparate subject matter in order to produce a body of work that is both visceral and insightful. With the exception of one bizarrely offensive poem which appears towards the end of the collection (more on this later), Brain Fever is excellent and worthy of attentive consideration. 

 Within the poems that make up Brain Fever, Hahn juxtaposes a variety of images, subjects and techniques in order to create a truly unique poetic effect. Epigraphs taken from neuroscientists and writings on dream theory are contrasted with muted, beautiful scenes of home life (“Then again from next door / I hear a matchbox car / racing up and down the shared-wall.”) as well as darker pictures of infidelity and abuse. The poems in this collection are powerfully and universally concise, with most coming in at under 25 lines, and yet they (almost) universally achieve powerful and lasting effects in the small space which they are given. Quotations on the nature of consciousness and the brain give context to the author’s meditations on the complexity and difficulty of human interaction, and the result is a body of work which speaks to some of our deepest collective anxieties and desires. 

 All of this being said, there is one poem within Brain Fever which serves (in a manner which is devastatingly unfortunate) to mire the rest of the collection. “The Problem with Dwarfs”, a poem which speaks to the author’s toxic interactions with her mother-in-law, contains lines and sentiment which are profoundly offensive and certainly wholly beneath an author of Hahn’s caliber. While reflecting on her now mother-in-law’s attempts to dissuade her now-husband from marrying her by calling her a “dwarf” (something which is certainly beyond vile), Hahn makes the claim that “…large women resemble bobbly transvestites” – a statement which is completely unacceptable, on multiple levels and regardless of circumstance. While it may be hoped that the author was attempting something satirical or consciousness-raising in some capacity, it must be said that such attempts (if they exist) must be regarded as a failure. The result is a hateful and ineffectual poem which stains an otherwise wonderful collection. 

 Overall, Kimiko Hahn’s Brain Fever is phenomenal. While there are serious issues which cannot be ignored as far as her poem “The Problem With Dwarfs”, one may hope that this was an error of judgement from an otherwise talented and insightful poet. As long as pages 96 and 97 are looked at in such a critical fashion, this book is an excellent foray into highly complex and important territory and comes (cautiously) recommended.  

Ethan Vilu 

NoD’s Zine Canteen!

Hello everyone!

We are very excited to announce that our editors will be hosting a zine-making night at the University of Calgary’s Art Lounge (SS main floor) on February 28th from 5:00-7:00pm. We will have some materials available but please feel free to bring some old magazines/books to cut up markers/crayons/pens, and glue or glitter– whatever you have! Bring snacks, bring friends and bring your creative juices! Zine-making is really just an excuse for an “adult” craft night that is slightly more sophisticated, and slightly more provocative than your times in grade school.

We wanna see some weird stuff!!! See you there kiddos.

Sincerely,

The NōDitorial

Samantha Hunt’s “The Seas”: A Book Review

In her debut novel “The Seas,” Samantha Hunt crafts a seamless and raw narrative about war, mysticism, parental loss and love. The narrative mirrors its setting, ebbing and bending between the narrator’s inner dialogue and the outside world, reflecting the awkwardness the narrator feels at being forced to live on land when she is elementally drawn to the ocean. There is a constant tension between water and land at work in this novel and almost every element, interaction, and characterization is skillfully based off this tension.

The story follows the story of a young girl of nineteen, stuck in a dead-end coastal town, bereaving the loss of her father, navigating her mother who “is regularly torn between being herself and being my mother,” the pain of loving an older man with PTSD, and her own belief that she is a mermaid. She also has a fascination with words, reflected in Hunt’s writing style, how she plays with word arrangement, colour, and setting.

The result is a beguiling piece, leaving the reader on edge and at the same time completely immersed in the moment through sharp imagery, emotion, and unpredictability.

Notable Quote: “Those cuts on my ribs are because I am trying to open gills before the flood comes.”

 

– Melody Dowdy 

 

 

 

 

Calling for Submissions!!

Hello to all you weird and crazy writers/artists out there!

NOD is currently accepting submissions for issue #25; the theme for this issue is displacement. Send us all of your best poetry, prose or artwork that incorporate the feelings and experiences of alienation, the Uncanny, a colonized or traumatized human-psyche etc.

ANYONE can submit! We strongly encourage university undergrads and other young people who are passionate about creative writing to submit. Our submissions will close March 11, 2019, at midnight. 

Feel free to read some back issues and pieces on our blog to get a glimpse of the kind of work we crave. You can order back issues on our tictail shop!

Check out our official submission guidelines here and send your best work to nodmagazine@gmail.com.

Our editors are very excited to receive your work!

Sincerely,

The NōDitorial