Buoyancy Control, the latest collection of poems from Vancouverite Adrienne Gruber, explores themes of sexuality, sexual identity, and queerness, while confronting the feelings of loss and longing found in relationships, and the chance glimpse into a new life, while still recovering from a painfully failed connection.
Metaphors of oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water, as well as the creatures that inhabit those spaces, swim and swirl their way through Gruber's languid poems, which are divided into two evocative sections. Though distinguished by their own prologue poems, both sections reveal details of the narrator's examination of life, but from two different perspectives: Section 1, Terra Firma, is an exploration of place, of what we consider solid and secure, and how solidity can betray us. In contrast, Section 2, A mari usque ad maria, brings the reader into themes of water and the fluidity of identity, particularly sexual identity and queerness.
This is an honest, at times humorous, and revealing look inside the mind and body of a woman manoeuvring through experiences of longing, loss, and the fluidity of sexual identity, only to come out on the other side a more forgiving being from the journey.
Fans of Karen Solie's powerfully feminist and unapologetic poetic voice, as well as the playful sarcasm and grit of Alison Calder's Wolf Tree, will glory in Gruber's fascinating culmination of land and sea, mind and body, in Buoyancy Control.
Praise for Buoyancy Control:
"Akin to the Indonesian mimic octopus, the poems in Buoyancy Control 'ascend from the ocean floor,' and proceed to evolve with an uncommon beauty. Both starkly sexual and aposematic, Adrienne Gruber's second book is remarkably controlled, framing the human condition in a world that's constantly shifting. Buoyancy Control is a fearless collection from one of Canada's best emerging poets." —Jim Johnstone, author of Dog Ear
"Densely, disturbingly erotic, Adrienne Gruber's Buoyancy Control is not a book for the faint of heart. Gruber's erotic reach encompasses the world entire, from undersea creatures to the human body of the beloved. No Hallmark sweetness in this collection—here is a fierce, wet, pulsing hunger, though there is an acute sensitivity in these observations, whether of childbirth, cold-water swimming, or other moments of convulsion and transformation so powerful that they transcend intellect. Here are poems that burst like fireworks, 'all thought blasted into the night sky.'" —Rachel Rose, Poet Laureate of Vancouver, author of Marry and Burn
"The lust and loneliness that muscle us between open water and inky depth vie for power in Buoyancy Control. Gruber's poems consume aqua life, roadkill, citrus, hotel beds, and dock-edge gargoyles as fuel for 'spit-shined' words that surface as moans and as 'sharp, atomized shrieks.' Plaintive, ecstatic, carnal, these pieces often wonder whether we’re 'complete on our own,' while veering between the urgency of self-pleasure, the defensiveness of self-containment, and the wound of self-reflexivity. Plumbing the digestive debris that skates the sea floor, Gruber's poems muck about with our equilibrium. We rise and sink lured by shadowscapes, pleasurelands and the hunt for a healthy gravity." —Brecken Hancock, author of Broom Broom, winner of the 2015 Trillium Book Award for Poetry
Adrienne Gruber's third full poetry collection, Q & A, is a poetic memoir detailing a first pregnancy, birth and early postpartum period. The poet is both traumatized and transformed by the birth of her daughter. She is compelled by the dark places birth takes her and as she examines and revisits those places, a grotesque history of the treatment of pregnant and birthing women reveals itself.
Praise for Q & A:
"To give birth, to bear life—to release and capture that experience in words: this is the crystalline achievement of Q & A. Gruber's poetry resonates in the hollows of my body, in the fear and hope that accompanies motherhood." —Marianne Apostolides, author of Deep Salt Water
"In Q&A Adrienne Gruber annotates the condition of the pre- and post-partum body, training her ruthless poetic eye on division: cell by cell, mother from daughter, fact from misguided historical tendency. Is this a love poem / or a poem of grief? / When we make something / we lose, she writes. Throughout these poems and their namesake childhood interrogatives, fluids course, sutures tear, ducts leak. Gruber's ability to command the language of sublime physicality draws motherhood's grotesque fears close, turning them over like an infant on a lap, examining perfections and dangers with intimate scrutiny." —Elee Kraljii Gardiner, author of Trauma Head and serpentine loop