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Book Review :: Continuity Errors by Catriona Wright

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

The super real, feminist, and sharp-edged poems of Catriona Wright’s Continuity Errors are at turns an “embodied presence / in virtual environments,” a “fever / dream of escape,” a “walk through the cemetery,” and “a scathing assessment” of our time. To tell us like it is, our self-deprecating narrator, a fierce new mother, “got” her wings “removed,” owns her “inner bitch,” and admits she “know[s] … little about how to live / a good life or about who [she] want[s] to be.”

A line item in her assessment: The angelic/“rowdy” paradigm for women within her family and the impact a woman’s choices have on “job, … marriage, / a life organized // around wealth.”

Another item: Relationship difficulties. We are reminded “don’t kid // yourself, love has always been / transactional.” Our “demons / look like our mothers… exes / … bosses and professors” who “condescend / and lecture and harangue, activating / shames from childhood.”

These poems implicate “parental models,” gatekeepers, “scammers,” “tourists,” the “betrayer and betrayed,” and the “visionaries and oracles,” and they make us face the “old sputtering hurts” we cause ourselves, one another, and our world. This is the world our narrator has brought her child into, admitting we “can’t fix” or “staunch” its bleeding fast enough. It may not be fair, but some of us “get to stay here longer than the white rhinos, / the bees.” Informed by environmental ethicist Michael Vincent McGinnis’s term “species loneliness,” Catriona Wright’s poems “flicker” and “mourn,” and are “as likely as anything / to banish loneliness from the world.”

Continuity Errors by Catriona Wright. Coach House Books, May 2023.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems appear.

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