Cover Image: The Vanishing Act (& The Miracle After)

The Vanishing Act (& The Miracle After)

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"A person is not
unlike a thing: a rose, a hip, a shore.

Like everything else,
it is here or
it is remembered."

This was quite an interesting reading experience. While the poetry collection is short, you can't help but take your time with each of the poems. Although I honestly didn't really catch the meaning of some, a few of them, such as "Handle With Care", "Language Barrier", and "Twisted Fate" (cited above), really spoke to me. Mirabel's writing is enthralling, and I'd be very keen to read more of her works in the future.

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Thank you, NetGalley and Guernica Editions, for the chance to read and review The Vanishing Act by Mirabel.

As a whole its a decent collection, but a mixed one for me. I loved some poems much more than others such as 'Handle with care', 'Better Days', 'Work Song', 'Purpose', and 'Freefall'.

I'd check out her work in the future.

Overall rating; 3.5 stars.

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This is once again a solid, unique poetry book — in fact, two poetry collections in a single manuscript.

These poems, more than 50 of them, have fresh take and perspectives on personal and public life, blending anger, sadness, annoyance, vulnerability and deep voidness with satirical jibe on general worldly views of followers of herd mentality, including God.

The first poem Ideation itself stuck me — weird, whacky, and wild in its tonality:

"The idea ... like a word whispered in a vacant room"
"You've got a green thumb, so leaf through my pages"
"Patience is a bargain with a barbaric god"

In Diffusing Tensions, she says "anger is not a weapon in feminine hands/merely a childish threat of detonation."

In Pulp, she makes a sly yet true remark on modern-day media and journalism: If only truth and a news report were one and the same.

At the penultimate stanza of Backturned Me, my favourite line comes:

"Luck ... is a loveless marriage with a better future"

A Relative Visits, the final verse in The Vanishing Act, is a deep, moving story of a working-class Sikh family.

The second part starts with Twisted Fate, where Mirabel compares thoughts to tumours.

In Haunting, a frustrated/vexed yet determined woman's voice is heard as she tells "I need not wear my womanhood like a flag of surrender/My lover leaves wet myths on my wanting skin".

One of the simple and best poetic lines comes in Change in Seasons: "Grief is an unwelcome guest who masquerades as pleasure".

In Crossroads, the poet nonchalantly throws in a deep zen and stoic philosophy line —"Listening is the place where healing will begin". Similarly, in Better Days, it's "I keep my distance from the distance".

Regarding Justice, the narrator takes a jibe on judicial system:

"Justice wears the face of the daughter you would rather not claim ... then settles in for a dreamless sleep"

The later poems handle complex personal issues, especially affecting immigrants. The poetess describes her experience as an immigrant in an unknown land and people.

These poems work on multiple levels — physical pain, mental melancholia, and psychological fear (psychosis) — that you cannot ignore the truth hidden inside it.

A compelling must-read contemporary poetic work with a new rejuvenated voice.

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Wow! this was a beautiful book about grief and finding light at the end of griefing. Very authentic and raw.

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Vanishing Act is a deeply personal book of poetry surrounding womanhood, "tragedies you wish you could have avoided", memory and mothers, certain aches and weights we feel forever, time and the stains we can never relinquish, despite that time. And in the Miracle After, these grievances and stains are comforted, as the speaker talks themselves down, talks down the living and non living things that surround them. The speaker finds solace in staying still, in losing one's mind, in being somewhat broken and aging. This speaker and this poet are incredibly wise and honest, as they seem to be working through the most universal problems of identity and life itself on the page, never truly finding resolution that we all crave. If you're someone that appreciates this unresolved conflict—the simple conversation and confession of grief—you will enjoy this book.

What I loved:

This is one of my quirks, but I am particularly enamored with first lines. And the first lines of this book are some of my favorites ever. I love most when first lines are images: "you cupped together / a bowl of grapes" or "there is something moving / behind the stove. It might have a tail", However, there are very statements to some of these that I love equally as much: "So you fucked it up in a way / you didn't know you could" or "In the end, the breath may be / the last to leave". With first lines like this, I never wanted to skip around to the next most exciting thing.

The personification through the second half of the book is spectacular. We give animals and inanimate objects grief and a voice. Moments of dialogue (and rhetorical questions), even from these non-human characters, were disorienting in the best way. The best example is in "Call and Response" where the rooms begin talking to the speaker. I am not sure what this madness is stemming from, but I think this disorientation is purposeful.

What I didn't love as much:

I think there could be more variety in the title of poems, as most of them were one worded or extremely short. While there is great variety in the form, the titles were not as exciting and it was very easy to skip over them. "By the Laundromat on Sainte-Catherine Street" broke this mold and I love the title very much! "Semblance of a Narrative" was another one of my favorites because it felt playful and informed the poem.

Moments I loved:

"I want to be / more than an animal / happening to itself"

What the Living Do in its entirety.

"In the new world; / my tongue is pink & my name is King / and I need not wear my womanhood / like a flag of surrender"

"If I could repel you / towards hope, I would"

"I find a God / who is not an active listener, / who takes too long to reply to prayers, / who appears only to disbelievers"

"Though labor is necessary, / it is not purpose"

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Great selection of poems on a variety of topics, ranging from more macro level observations to more micro/personal level musings. This collection had a full range of emotional representation. I personally really resonated with the poem entitled Gaslighter.

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I really liked this poetry book. It is split into 2 sections. The first half is about grief and the second half is about grief. Each of the poems described a particular feeling with such power that the imagery is clear in the reader's mind.

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This was beautiful and poignant. Being familiar with the neighbourhood/city that she grew up in, I could see some of the influences in her poetry. Some of the metaphors were so beautiful and impactful, I specifically highlighted this one:
" so I break open
my spine like
a fortune cookie,"

Some of my favourite poems include:
- Handle with care
- Stain
- Cautionary tale
- Language barrier
- Twisted fate
- Little living beings
- Omnicience

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Very interesting story. Short and to the point. This book made me think and reflect a lot after reading it. This book can be finished in one reading but there will be many life values that can be found.

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