086.1: Jaswinder Bolina:: Aviary & Sunday, Sunday & Oops Canary
14 November 2011
At the end of Jaswinder Bolina's "Sunday, Sunday," the speaker likens himself to "an echo in reverse / gradual and deafening." Instead of a voice travelling away from the speaker into a high-ceilinged hall or massive cave, Bolina's voice originates outside the self and travels louder and louder toward both the speaker and the reader until it disappears into our mouths. Fueled by litany and enjambment, these poems reveal the self without letting the self know. The speakers of "Aviary" and "Sunday, Sunday" mediate their emotions through geography and technology. In "Aviary," Topeka becomes a repository for the unthinking movements of domestic life and later for the regrets of adventures never had. In "Sunday, Sunday," emotional states become physical locations; moving from one state to another is a matter of will, of hopping in the car and going. When the speaker is at his most exuberant, he wishes to express it through technology ("I wanted to text you my brightening outlook"), and at the lowest point of the relationship, the speaker's own failures are revealed through failed technology (broken car windows and a demagnetized debit card). Though his speakers tap dance around lyric expression, Bolina ensures their performances draw a bold circle around what is not being said. At his most "gradual and deafening" in "Oops Canary," Bolina places himself in competition with the songbird, challenging that his stories have more truth than the bird's song and admitting that he sings in order to impress. Jaswinder Bolina does impress, and his poems reverberate cutting emotional truths (except for that part he made up about the whales).