A disgruntled Disney™ employee, a Spanish mystic and a fever-ridden Supervixen are a few of the tenants of Tear Down. An assemblage of myth, architectural narrative and trigger-tale, the collection draws inspiration from Catholic saints, garage bands, the Seven African Powers, performance art, and the history of lipstick. Whether its characters are fasting in the desert, casting spells in suburban kitchens, or losing an eye in the gender wars, Tear Down takes a wry and visionary look at impermanence, the meaning of home, and finding solace in a fallen world.
The trajectory of Riley’s poetry has yet to come close to its peak. This book is a necessary exploration without severing her roots: a fine, complex work.
Riley has a wonderful ear for rhythm and tempo. The impact of her poetry comes almost entirely from her perfect control of tone.
Tear Down consists of intimate, sharp-edged poems that pry open women’s inner lives, veering between quick-tongued, confessional-style lyrics and something much more open in form. Riley’s work is sassy, fun and dangerous: much more like New York than like the rural locales she’s lived in lately.
Riley fuses pageantry with sound, she contrasts the urban landscape of drug dealing and petty crime with the Waldron Pond gone wrong rural scene. Her poetic Third Eye shifts from snapshot to prose poem to cinema veritee documentary.
Referencing such unlikely bedfellows as Kafka and Patti Smith, Zarathustra, St. John and The Silver Jews, Riley, reliable trafficker of the sweet unexpected, will not be pinned down. These are poems alive and pulsing as desire.
About the Author
Ali Riley’s first book, Wayward, was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. She was born in Calgary, and was the singer/songwriter of the seminal psycho-country band Sacred Heart of Elvis. In Toronto, she acted in several theatre productions, including The Lorca Play, for which the company won a Dora Mavor Moore award for best performance by a female. Her produced plays include dog dream, Philosophy in the Bedroom and Hole in my Heart the Size of My Heart. Her poetry has appeared in Geist, The nth Position Anthology, Matrix, This Magazine, Event and theMoosehead Review, and she has performed at festivals, schools, and hootennannies across the country. She currently lives on a farm between Nanton and Vulcan, Alberta.
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