Sensorial by Carolyne Van Der Meer

Carolyne Van Der Meer’s Sensorial (Inanna Press, 2022), her third collection of poetry, is a sublime experience of intricate poetics that are subtle yet sharp. Minimalist in style, and eloquent, it shimmers with a quicksilver of emotion. Van Der Meer’s gift for transforming and elevating narrative croons. In Sensorial, precision as crisp as macrophotography turns the reader again and again onto an unexpected path. This blends with her observational focus which demonstrates that sometimes moment to moment, common and uncommon events are more intimate, more meaningful than may be assumed.

“In Sensorial, Van Der Meer employs honesty that is both tender and unflinching.”

In Sensorial, Van Der Meer employs honesty that is both tender and unflinching, capturing an inevitable human vulnerability with immediate intimacy. Conscientiously plucking at social complexities, compassion in Sensorial is more than just well-wishing: it strives to reveal dignity. These elements are heightened by a destabilized sense of place and how we belong to it.

Van Der Meer’s visceral use of form and style varies throughout the collection. Only a handful of poems use punctuation. Yet every poem travels line by line. There is an ethereal questioning, a provoking of the senses to return and re-examine just as there is paradox. Although structured in reality’s hard unnegotiables, Sensorial presents steady relationships with uncertainty. As in the opening poem, “Finding Atlantis” where Van Der Meer guides us with:

            Some things you just can’t
            know. Discussion is useless.
            Sitting on that bus leaving
            Queretaro I had no idea.
            I was escaping. The death of my father
            weighed heavily. Art. Paradise.
            I needed to create in
            his honour, his memory.
            Leave behind what he wasn’t.
            What he didn’t do.

Throughout Sensorial, lines break and flow into one another, branching destabilization into narrative poetry’s typical presentation. The absence of this comforting guidepost is replaced with trust. We will blindly follow Van Der Meer’s honesty, anticipating a moving echo and startling turn of events.

As we glide deeper into Sensorial, the work shifts from an external perspective that includes homelessness and public relationships to examine Van Der Meer’s private relationship with her father, his life with Parkinson’s disease, and his final days in palliative care. Drawing from the autobiographical and even dreams, Van Der Meer synaptic use of sound and sense creates a space where memory and poetic resonance are inseparable.

Sensorial is also unique in that it captures the abstract concept of how time really functions, how memory spirals, and how our thoughts and experiences loop. It is unusual to finish a poetry collection only to feel compelled to read it again. From the final line of the closing poem to “Finding Atlantis”, Sensorial loops subtly. Engaging, startling, and resonant, Carolyne Van Der Meer’s Sensorial braids and re-braids our understanding of poetry and narrative, and our place and perspective in reality and time.

You can read Kayla’s in-depth conversation with Ms. Van Der Meer here.


Carolyne Van Der Meer is a journalist, public relations professional and university lecturer who has published articles, essays, short stories and poems internationally. Her first book, Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience, was published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in 2014, and her second book, a collection of poetry entitled Journeywoman, was published in 2017. A third book, for which she translated her own poems into French, Heart of Goodness: The Life of Marguerite Bourgeoys in 30 Poems | Du coeur à l’âme : La vie de Marguerite Bourgeoys en 30 poèmes, was published by Guernica in 2020. Sensorial is her third full-length poetry collection. Carolyne lives in Montreal, Quebec.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Inanna Poetry & Fiction Series (May 31 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 104 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771338903
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771338905

 -- Website

KAYLA GEITZLER, MA, is from Moncton, within Siknikt of the Mi’kma’ki. “A Rad Woman of Canadian Poetry” & Attic Owl Reading Series host, she was Moncton’s first Anglophone Poet Laureate. Her first poetry collection was a finalist for two awards. Kayla is co-editor of the multilingual anthology Cadence Voix Feminines Female Voices. She was a technical editor on pipeline projects & designed ATC courseware. As an editor, writing consultant & instructor, Kayla's affordable expertise helps writers & organizations achieve success.