Jaime Forsythe’s new book of poetry I Heard Something is a trust exercise in the creative process—Forsythe kept the inspiration channel open and all manner of tense and surreal thoughts crept in.
“Have you ever gotten so used to listening for your baby’s cry that you auditory-hallucinate her cry?” asks Forsythe. “I think I was in that kind of tired-yet-alert-listening state a lot.”
A self-identified “sloooow” writer, Forsythe’s poems are crafted in “scraps of time,” jotted on the back of order pads, taken in quick notes and retiring some ideas for years before their purpose becomes clear again. “I didn’t really set out to write a second book right away,” she says of the follow-up to 2012’s Sympathy Loophole, “but the poems kept accumulating. It always feels hard to me, like starting from scratch every time I sit down.”
The poems in I Heard Something do feel this way, Forsythe’s familiar dark humour punching through the page even when nestled between flirtations with the uncanny—a dreamy quality permeates the book, as if you were to find yourself suddenly behind the eyes of someone else, à la Being John Malkovich. It’s funny; it’s a bit terrifying; it’s very weird. Some poems marry a haziness to the starkly commonplace, like when receiving unusual directions left for you by a friend in “Notes for the Housesitter:” “You do not have to follow silver arrows made of electrical tape, or consider every cult offer that comes knocking. Please bring in the mail.” There is something special secreted away in each poem waiting for a reader to find and connect with its odd revelation.
I Heard Something is an experience—a thrill, a shiver up your back—not easy, but well worth exploring. “I think with this book, I felt a bit more comfortable with experimentation and slightly longer forms,” she says. “I was more comfortable settling into a poem, letting it unfurl and seeing where it went.”