CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian's Reviews > Nothing Will Save Your Life

Nothing Will Save Your Life by Nancy Jo Cullen
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really liked it
bookshelves: canadian, own, poetry, queer

This is a unique book, with many poems using traditional forms while a lot of the content is focused on 21st century life, including climate change and social media. One series of sonnets is titled "TBH"; "current mood" is used as a poem title more than once. At the same time, aging, death, and nostalgia are also prominent themes that feel more timeless or time stamped in the past. 

Cullen writes about the deaths – and lives – of both her parents and her experiences aging, realizing her own mortality. Life is a "relentless mix of joy and dread" that "not even poetry will save." The poems about her youth feel critically nostalgic, like she knows things are maybe worse now in some ways but it's not like everything was better before. There was an innocence, though.  She writes: 

We told our mothers we were at sleepovers / Look at us in our tight jeans and high-heeled boots / Little deities of the suburb / Monstrous in our appetites / It was the time of our lives / Before we became insurance brokers / Or single moms / Or sober

Cullen often uses line repetition, sometimes slightly altered from the line's previous appearance; it gives the poems a circular rhythm and kind of emphasis I enjoyed. Her imagery is often everyday, realist, which makes metaphors stand out and blow you over: "all the while our hearts pounding in our throats / those delicate disasters / we cannot shrug off." My heart, the delicate disaster. Such images sit alongside colloquial dialogue like "You mad bro / Don't be mad bro." 

Other diverse themes include dog companionship, motherhood, domesticity, growing up Catholic, nature, sex ("groins" are "wicked boxes of delight"), parents, beauty standards, fatphobia, and food. 

These poems are often sad, sometimes funny, sometimes joyful, sometimes even bawdy. I recommend them! 
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Reading Progress

March 11, 2022 – Shelved as: to-read
March 11, 2022 – Shelved
March 11, 2022 – Shelved as: canadian
March 11, 2022 – Shelved as: queer
March 11, 2022 – Shelved as: poetry
March 11, 2022 – Shelved as: own
July 30, 2022 – Started Reading
August 6, 2022 – Finished Reading

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