Viral Suite


101 pages
ISBN 1-895636-58-2
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is the senior movie reviewer at the National Post.


With section titles that include HomeoPatho-Logic and Elucidata, this
collection seems written by a lover of the five-dollar word. And indeed,
the first 10 poems, grouped under the heading “Boreal Surreal,” are
needlessly dense, tripping the reader with lines like “Numinous disk
radiating orange ochre pileus.” One yearns for a footnote or a
steadying authorial hand.

But the rest of the works provide just that. HomeoPathoLogic’s poems
flip between medical and lyrical language and imagery, as in the warning
“A long-acting remedy, pining can poison a person for life.” The
Elucidata section, with titles like “Sex in Space Time” and
“String Theory,” includes actual footnotes on the scientific
ramifications of its poems’ themes and subjects. And a section called
InArticulations weaves together fragments of writing from 18th-century
philosopher Friedrich Schiller and 20th-century art magazines, although
I would have enjoyed it more had the two sources been distinguished by
different typography.

In any case, Mari-Lou Rowley is one poet, but her work achieves its
most startling clarity when it speaks in two voices, whether her own or
borrowed. When the ingredients are mixed, these poems really cook.


Rowley, Mari-Lou., “Viral Suite,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024,