Exploding into Night explores Toronto's inner city

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Sandy Pool's Toronto is a lonely metropolis where love begets failure

Sandy Pool compares her first poetry book Exploding into Night to a "choose your own adventure": this fictionalized account of a murder in one of Toronto's neighbourhoods can be read in fragments or from beginning to end to produce different narratives.

Multiple narrators in the Parkdale community -- like the victim, the city cleaner and the city itself -- tell the story. These different perspectives suggest that the truth is continuously reinvented by each observer. Pool explains that "the politics of terrible things" is at the heart of Exploding into Night. In the aftermath of the murder, the reader observes the complex relationship between the people of Parkdale and how they adapt to this new reality. Each narrator is bereaved in some way -- mourning the loss of life, love or security.

As a multidisciplinary artist, Pool's theatre background is evident in the rhythmic, multisensory language and its use of silences. She was born in a small, rural town in Ontario, but is more of a city-dweller these days; her visceral imagery illustrates this duality. Throughout the text an unruly wilderness infiltrates the urban landscape: individuals make love like bears "skin tearing open blood-bright" to reveal the "jellyfish heart bloating, raw and iridescent."

Indeed, Pool's Toronto is a lonely metropolis where love begets failure. Nighttime reinforces these feelings by uncovering the forlorn underbelly of the city where "we shuck ourselves nightly, unholy skins, driftwood bones. In the dark, we write psalms to the awkward silence. Loneliness, that solemn habit, gaining." Neither sleep nor solace can be found in this uncertain world.

It is not surprising that Pool's collection has made the short list for the 2010 Governor General's award for English poetry. She has bravely challenged poetic conventions of voice and form and engaged readers with a dark and troubling subject.—Cara Waterfall

Click here to listen to Cara's interview with Sandy Pool on radio book lounge.

Peripatetic by nature and a poet by design, Cara worked for a bank and charity before focusing on writing. Now based in Toronto, she has lived in Malaysia, Kenya and Austria. She has been published in The Fiddlehead, paperplates.org and bonjourparis.com. This worldly Ottawa native values her sandalwood Buddha and her unwieldy postcard and Canadian literature collections. Find her at belledejournal.com.

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