Book Review: Failure to Thrive

Failure to Thrive by Suzannah Showler is her first collection of poetry. Showler holds a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto and has had her work published in literary magazines. 

Failure to Thrive is one of the poetry collections that I tried really hard to fully appreciate. Perhaps my mind is a little old and I suffer from a poetry version of “your music.” We all have heard it from our parents, “I just don’t understand your music.” As much as we swear we will never think that way about our children’s music, we do. Perhaps this is where I am at with this collection. 

Poetry has gotten pretty free lately and things I would never thought to be poems are poems. I would call them poetic, but not poetry. Not that I by any means can call things “real poetry” but, personally, I know it when I see it. Showler does provide an interesting collection of thoughts, some lyrical and others seemingly stream of consciousness. 

From the poem “Jeopardy”:
Where are the blind leading the blind? What is a
dissociative fugue?
What is a proof of purchase?
Where is the last place you look?

From “Pretty Good Time at the Olfactory Factory”

A Scratch ‘n Sniff sticker with all the good stuff scratched out of it.

Bike lock in winter coaxe open with a creme brulee torch

From “Whale Fall”

So, a whale dies and sinks down into the dark–
a hundred and fifty tonne lipid sack
scrawling and uneven Z as it falls.
It is going down wearing its original skin, taut to
near-split from gasses put off
by the decompositional stink
getting its brew on inside.

Showler has an excellent feel for creating mood, sense, and imagery. She has the skill of a great writer. Perhaps it is my eye/ear that is not in tuned to some modern poetry. I like what I read, very much so. I just struggle with it as poetry. Perhaps too rebellious for my defined taste. It is very visual, sensory, and poetic. Showler does beautiful things with words.


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