Satched: Poems by Megan Gail Coles

Satched: The state of being soaked through to the skin or caught in a heavy downpour. (from the back cover)

A couple of years ago, I read the absolutely delightful novel, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles and fell madly in love with her prose. When I saw she had a collection of poetry coming out this fall, I just had to read it. And while Small Game Hunting smacked me in the face with its extreme east coast feeling, Satched packs an even harder punch.

“This is the kind of work about our region that I identify most with: lovingly critical, demanding more of the place we call home while acknowledging the hold it has on us.”

Coles takes the trials and tribulations of living on the east coast of Canada and spins them into beautiful, reflective poems on a life in a chronically depressed economy, reliant on long-dead industries. This is the kind of work about our region that I identify most with: lovingly critical, demanding more of the place we call home while acknowledging the hold it has on us. Coles rages, jokes, and reminisces about a life in Newfoundland, originally home by birth but now home by choice.

For those who don’t connect as strongly with the east coast vibes of this collection, the work’s other themes are just as engaging. Wonderfully feminist screeds like “Lay Your Whispers on Some Other Pillow,” will resonate with many women, opening with a blunt takedown:

Please, yes 
do mansplain it to me, 
the answer I’ve searched 
my whole life to find just 
happens to be in your pants

Coles wryly examines being a woman in your thirties in this collection, the impossible pressures that society places on women, as well as the way we treat women of different ages. In “Run Bitch Run,” Coles writes:

Five minutes ago 
you were too young 
and now you are too old 
the middle place where 
you are just right 
does not exist.

As a woman of a similar age, this is a real mood. Coles tells of her adventures in home renovation and being taken advantage of by repairmen, of childhood memories, of the abusive relationship workers are locked in with the companies which come to Atlantic Canada to exploit industries and then abandon the region with environmental destruction in their wake, and the very similar, later relationships workers have with the oilfields in Alberta. She critiques the settler relationship with the land and the way climate change has made itself very apparent in our lifetimes. This is a passionate collection of poems, and I appreciated how Coles’ poems could make me laugh, cry, and nod in deep understanding, all in the same stanza.

Satched is an excellent poetry debut, full of excellent works, and at 130 pages, on the longer side for a poetry collection. I promise it is well worth your time to open the cover and step inside a proudly rooted on the east coast book.

Megan Gail Coles is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, the National Theatre School of Canada, and the University of British Columbia. She is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Poverty Cove Theatre Company, for which she has written numerous award-winning plays. Her debut short fiction collection, Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome, won the BMO Winterset Award, the ReLit Award, and the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, and it earned her the Writers’ Trust of Canada 5×5 Prize. Her debut novel, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a contender for CBC Canada Reads, and it won the BMO Winterset Award. Originally from Savage Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland/ Ktaqmkuk, Megan lives in St. John’s, where she is the Executive Director of Riddle Fence and a Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ House of Anansi Press (Sept. 7 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 112 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1487008945
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1487008949
 -- Website

Alison Manley has ricocheted between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for most of her life. Now in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is the Cataloguing and Metadata Librarian at Saint Mary's University. Her past life includes a long stint as a hospital librarian on the banks of the mighty Miramichi River. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. While she's adamant that her love of reading has nothing to do with her work, her ability to consume large amounts of information very quickly sure is helpful. She is often identified by her very red lipstick, and lives with her partner Brett and cat, Toasted Marshmallow.