“How strange it is to live in these bodies/and pretend we are not judged,” writes Becka McKay in her newest collection, The Little Book of No Consolation. McKay’s imagination takes us far away from our earthly bodies through dreamscapes of terror and possibilities. With a fanciful Dictionary of Misremembered English and mistranslated phrases as her guide, she reimagines Biblical figures, governments, and language’s very syntax. McKay spins her poems as though spinning plates, on a pole of syntax all her own, the gyroscopic effect dazzling.
The Little Book of No Consolation is obsessed with the constancy of human error and the smallness of individual experience—which is why it’s so fascinating how large this book is, how much McKay keeps discovering in the world “strapped to [her] eyes.” These poems are self-conscious and self-aware in the best sense, full of complex, startling observations about language, history, violence, God, sleep, and the animals “everywhere around us.” “How many kinds of disbelief can there be?” McKay asks—and yet this is a powerful, hard-won book of real and accumulating faith.
McKay plays with the coordinates of English syntax with dazzling inventiveness. Every poem in this book takes the reader down a surprising new road, on a glorious pursuit of wisdom through our elusive relationship to language and meaning.