il virus by Lillian Nećakov

Lillian Nećakov’s sixth poetry collection makes a practice of writing during Toronto’s COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in spring 2020. il virus presents readers with 113 “daily dispatches” composed over 78 days “at the edge of the graveyard” when “words were heavy.” As the poet watches the clock, she continue[s] / in wakefulness / sentence after sentence” in pursuit of “understand[ing] / the architecture of … life” and the changes to her primal relationships—a dog companion at her side, her son “850 metres away,” and “afraid to kiss [her] husband.”

“Nećakov’s writing is at ease, attentive, and tender, mixing social commentary, cultural critique, and love letter in spare lyrics and prose poems.”

Nećakov’s writing is at ease, attentive, and tender, mixing social commentary, cultural critique, and love letter in spare lyrics and prose poems. As a reader might expect, the poem-dispatches offered “in silence / in shadow” collect “errata after errata” and brim an admixture of fear, grief, and disbelief. The dispatches are perhaps more surprising when they emerge from spontaneous reminiscences, dredged regrets, and verging forgiveness; from the poet’s “private imagination prisons” and “injured syntax.” Another shift arises when the poems are in dialog with other poets. The opening line of T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”—“April in the cruellest month”—could be thought of as an epigraph to Nećakov’s numbered, April-to-June poems of “cruel days.” Lorca, Joyce, Pound, Padgett, Nichol, Burroughs, and Ginsberg are among the “redactionists” who assist Nećakov in “sifting through the detritus of a life so far.”

In her ongoing practice of observation and attention, “moving from kitchen / to anguish / to puddle / to the evening / ovation,” the visible world radiates meaning, memory becomes palpable, and loss is acknowledged. il virus transcribes the paradox of a writer’s life in a world “on the verge / of extinction,” reminding readers of “the fact / of our bodies”— “the train is coming faster than we think”—and yet, “everything is magnetic / we can never fall off the edge.”

Lillian Nećakov is the author of about a dozen poetry chapbooks, including The Lake Contains an Emergency Room (Apt. 9 Press; shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award), as well as the full-length collections Hooligans (Mansfield Press), The Bone Broker (Mansfield Press), Hat Trick (Exile Editions), Polaroids (Coach House Books), and The Sick Bed of Dogs (Wolsak and Wynn), The editor of The Boneshaker Anthology (Teksteditions), she has also published in many print and online journals in Canada and the U.S. Lillian runs the Boneshaker Reading Series in Toronto, where she lives.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ A Feed Dog Book (April 15 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 128 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1772141739
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1772141733

Jami Macarty gratefully recognizes the Coast Salish as the traditional and rightful owners of lands where Jami has the privilege to live and learn—as a teacher at Simon Fraser University, as an independent editor, and as a writer of essays, reviews, and poetry. Jami is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award - Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by the British Columbia Arts Council, the Writer’s Studio at Banff Centre, and by editors at Canadian magazines such as Arc Poetry Magazine, The Capilano Review, CV2, EVENT, Grain, and Vallum Magazine.