Síle Englert, an Ontario-based poet and multidisciplinary artist, has released her debut full-length poetry collection, entitled The Lost Time Accidents. Published Oct. 5, Englert’s release is introspective and metaphorical, yet imbedded in reality, time and connection.
Throughout The Lost Time Accidents, it’s evident that every piece of Englert’s vivid and complex writing carries multiple meanings and reference to a vast array of topics, which ultimately feel autobiographical. On the surface, the poems focus on one subject — such as the body, insomnia or childhood toys — while a whole other narrative exists beneath.
The collection is split into three parts, all of which are left to the reader to determine their meaning. Within these sections, Englert includes poems of varying lengths, styles and forms. These components work together to convey her surreal and psychological subject matter, coalescing to create a body of work that is not only cohesive but manages to maintain intrigue and momentum throughout.
The standout poems were those in which Englert strayed from conventional formatting, breaking up sentences with large spaces or into columns on either side of the page. This not only adds visual interest to the pages but allows the reader to find the rhythm Englert may have intended these works to be read with easily, centring on a flow of words that allows their meaning to sink in appropriately. This effect was strongest in “The Day I Swallowed a Dragonfly,” which can almost be read as two separate poems consolidated into one.
Englert’s shifting of narrators throughout The Lost Time Accidents is a very successful aspect of this work as well. While each poem has the undercurrent of Englert’s voice, different speakers bring slightly different tonal values, colours of emotion and perspective that lend themselves to a deeper understanding of each the messages the author intended to convey in her poems.
For instance, “Voyager 1 Sings to Her Sister” reminisces about life on earth, as told from the perspective of the satellite itself, pulling us back from our own existences to think about the world in a different way. In contrast, the plural voices in “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death” travel in between our current base of historical knowledge and the past, reminding us of our collective history and experience as human beings.
Englert’s many historical, scientific and artistic references are a nice touch. Coupled with their shifting narrators, these seemingly disparate references brought a truly multidisciplinary feel to Englert’s poems in an intelligent way. Additionally, they refocus interest on the writing each time they come up, particularly when what the author is referring to is immediately apparent.
Some poems which were especially fascinating in this regard are “Claudel and The Age of Maturity,” which references the sculptors Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin, “We Are Barnum’s Feejee Mermaid,” which dives into the real-life Fiji mermaid hoax from the perspective of the mermaid and “Unearthing,” which speaks to Amelia Earhart’s disappearance and near discovery.
Beautiful, haunting, psychological and vividly real all at once, Englert’s The Lost Time Accidents is definitely worth the read.