Author: Cecily Nicholson
Publisher: Talonbooks (2011)
In a world where the corporate iron fist clad in the velvet glove of the state has appropriated all that is authentic and authoritative in language, there seems little left for us to say to each other. Yet against the determination of borders, capital, criminalization and violence, stigmatized bodies also remember patterns, history, possibility and solidarity. Triage attempts an ordered, critical response to the surges of overlapping manufactured crises that perpetuate the conditions and symptoms of our public and private disentitlements.
Drawing on the increasingly marginalized and criminalized language of protest and resistance, these poems present a polyvocal narrative of human communities struggling at the brutal margins of the neoliberalized state. Triage acknowledges and legitimizes dialogical practices of organizing for food, shelter, mobility, access and voice grounded in a global network of specific communities and movements. It addresses the resilience of people refusing disposability in these highly contested zones; articulates their commonalities in their struggle to take back the garish interventions of commercial language and enterprise in their lives.
The routes to the urban centre from rural, suburban and reserve communities are shared experiences articulated by many of the poems’ characters. Their displacement has concentrated and “naturalized” their entrenchment at the physical margins of the city and turned habit and need into specific areas of surveillance, where low income means risk, focusing primarily on the particular conditions of women caught in the everyday grind at the mercy of the propertied.
Accustomed to framing that which simultaneously victimizes as it offers assistance, Triage acknowledges a powerful legacy of women’s creative resistance to everyday physical and systemic violence. It understands the costs and remembers the losses as it sorts through the rubble of language to salvage a redefinition of beauty and reify a meaningful aesthetic. After loss, hurt, survival and recovery, more is warranted, and more is coming.