Cover Image: Mere Extinction

Mere Extinction

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Member Reviews

Reading is always a subjective response, but poetry often seems to me to be even more individualistic.  And sometimes I just come across a collection that just clearly is not my thing.  That was unfortunately the case with Evie Christie’s Mere Extinction.  In style, in language use, in sound quality, it was just the sort of poetry I don’t respond to, either responding to a narrative, a speaker, a voice, word choice, imagery, employment of metaphor.  The poems were too elliptical, the lines feeling (though I know they are not) too arbitrary, the imagery not precise enough, the language feeling more prose-like than I prefer.  Intellectually I could grasp trauma, grief, pain, etc., but I didn’t feel it emotionally. My favorites were “Ranch Style” and “Our Mothers”, which seemed more grounded and more cohesive to me.

I don’t expect every poem in a collection to wow me, or even win me over; I consider myself satisfied if I respond positively to two-thirds or three-quarters. And even when that doesn’t happen in collection, I’ll often have highlighted a number of lines that struck me for all those reasons above.  In all, I highlighted four line/passages in Mere Extinction, which tells you that the collection was not for me.  I don’t call that evidence of bad writing, I don’t call the collection a failure, it just didn’t meet me where I like to be met when it comes to poetry.
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“Plan Ahead

The space love cuts out 
will need to be filled with loss. Make room, pain is big.”

In Mere Extinction, Evie Christie has created a deeply emotional collection of poems primarily focused on grief and loss. Make room...the pain she writes about is indeed big. The collection begins with a number of the poems about that most searing of losses: the death of a child. The collection continues with poems about other losses and even doomsday prepping. Christie’s poems are intimate and unflinchingly matter-of-fact shared in a voice that is by turns sad and angry and defiant.

Many thanks to ECW and NetGalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I wasn't sure what to expect from this collection of poetry, but I wasn't expecting it to be as sad and dark as it was. A lot of the poems seemed to be brutally honest, and full of grief. I wasn't necessarily in the right place to "enjoy" this collection, but I very much respect the writing and the emotions that the author conveyed. I hope to revisit it again in the future so I can read an interpret the poems through a different, person lens.
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These a poems from a domestic apocalypse from the Holocene extinction of love. Darky, sometimes dreamlike sometimes sharp and concrete, but always sad and intense.  Take for 'Ranch House' for example: 

Douglas fir, not a proper fir
(I read somewhere), lined the numbered streets,
once they were strewn with lights.
One stood in front of the church jus over there.
The single mothers stacked
in two bedrooms near the stoplight, their trees
plastic and wire, their kids
tell them about the smell of the living rooms 
in friends' suburban ranch style homes
pine, sap, Christmas paper
Maybe the moms say, we'll get one next year
and a cat and a dog - 
those houses have cats and dogs, the kids might say.
One yea they get fish, one year
a used sedan, but mostly they buy oil
for the greedy tank to keep the red from the babies' noses, 
the floors make them hop in the morning
 but in no time they're warm enough.
there's milk and bread and fruit.
The fish swim in their bowl,
next year they'll get a real tree from the lot.

Just a punch to the gut, right?  Or slightly more surrealistically and even more painful, there are poems like "Life Choices":

When you choose to die it is not respected like
being approved for a mortgage is respected.
When I got a car my neighbors were like, 
hey, great car, I knew I had accomplished something, for them.  

Dying is even greater, I told them,
my neighbors, one of them said, do we know you from hockey?
the others said things to the effect of, It's defeat, it's as good as
a broken fast.  They buckle their L.L. Bean vests to the chin.

But I know better - I saw you draw in a whole galaxy of white
eyes and fingertips swirling 'round ever closer with each breath lost. 

The collection as a whole gets even more intense, so it's not surprising I took a long time to read and linger to digest these poems.  I wasn't happy reading these poems but they are really, really good.
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*I received an ARC from netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

As a more frequent reader and less frequent writer of poetry I've recently begun to dip my toe back into the waters of regular poetry reading. This is the first time I've read poetry specifcally to review - I've googled "how to review poetry books/collections" and am ignoring all of it and flying by the seat of my pants. 

"Mere Extinction" is quite simply marvelous. The sort of writing that is quietly dark, that leaves you needing to sit with yourself quietly for a while once you've finished.

I read through cover to cover twice - once just to read and once in mind of needing to review. Both times I loved it, and it gave me the same feeling of having been stripped bare when I was done. You definitely don't need to read cover to cover - each poem holds itself in its own right and this collection could be dipped into and out of at will at any stage.
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this is a solid collection of poems, all brutally open yet delicately laced together. death comes into life and brings with it the softness of spring. i liked a lot of the imagery christie used in many of her poems, idyllic yet tragic. a dying world that reveals underneath a sweet beauty. many of her poems were dedicated or written after a number of poets, artists, actors, most of whom i was unfamiliar with. this made it a bit difficult to grasp the context of these poems, and i'm sure the depth and meaning of certain poems completely went over my head because i just wasn't sure what or who christie was referring to. some of her poems also felt a bit like rambling, a cascade of loose concepts that weren't expounded upon as much as i would have wanted them to be, but other poems seemed to be the perfect length with magnificent detail and sentiment. her style of writing took a bit of time to get used to, and as the collection went on i felt myself being drawn more and more into her poetry. overall, i quite enjoyed reading this and would definitely be open to reading more of evie christie.

my favorite poems were "Species That Went Extinct Last Year and Some Who Just Died", "Keep Dying", "The Common Heart Attack", "St. Michael's", "Learning to Drive (Notes from my driving instructor + my online yoga class)", "Rationing Fruit" and "Shechita". i am also fond of "Becoming Mike Tyson", and the last line of the collection, "'Evie, a revolution is not a dinner party' and I took that as a sign I was doing everything right and everything would be okay."
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I haven’t been much into poetry since I was a teenager, but I was excited to get back into it with Mere Extinction by Evie Christie. 

Each poem was filled a sadness that felt honest. Though it was painful to read some of these poems, it also felt like a window into a real life and that made it beautiful. 

I was particularly drawn to the opening poem, Species Who Went Extinct and Some Who Just Died, Ranch Style and Keep Dying. 

Overall, I loved this short book of poetry very much.
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I know that I don't tend to gravitate towards poems very often so I was pretty excited to read this and give my thoughts. I do have to say that I really did not enjoy this one unfortunately. It felt more like a string of random nonsensical thoughts that the author started and finished on different lines with no intent. I did finish the book as I was hoping that I would 'get it' a bit more? Maybe the 'surrealism' wasn't intended for someone like me to understand but nope, definitely not. None of the stories made sense or felt in any way poetic or interesting to read. For me they had no flow and some of them were so uninteresting or weird/gruesome for no real purpose that it made me want to put my kindle down and walk away for a bit 

2/5 stars because although I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, I did manage to finish it and I don't feel like it wasted too much of my time because it was so short.
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I’ve been dying to read this book of prose.  
It’s lovely, adaptable, painful, jarring, melancholy and redemptive.  I enjoyed this book immensely and highly recommend it.
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