cover image All the Gold Hurts My Mouth

All the Gold Hurts My Mouth

Katherine Leyton. Goose Lane/Icehouse (UTP, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (62p) ISBN 978-0-86492-886-3

Leyton’s debut poetry collection is at times angry, often deeply sexual, and always captivating. It’s also an incredibly personal collection: unabashedly feminist, inquisitive and self-interrogating, and in many ways transgressive. That, too, is tangled up in eroticism. The speaker’s histories and commentaries are laid bare in plain and staggeringly beautiful free verse, as well as more formal styles. Her voice is at once conversational and conspiratorial; the reader is invited in to observe memories and other less tangible ghosts as they collide on the page in kaleidoscopic prose that’s firework-bright and brilliant. Her subjects are often deceptively simple yet intricately, expansively layered, as in “The First Time with Pay-Per-View”: “Her body was an ostentatious palace/ where he broke all the furniture.” Leyton’s subject matter creates a compelling basis for the work, and her voice, audacity, and dexterity as a poet underscore the book’s decidedly impressive momentum. This is a book that reads quickly and pulls no punches. Though the collection is slight, it feels weighty. Leyton’s writing speaks in soft whispers but hits like a sledgehammer. (Mar.)