Imprint:Guernica Editions - Hamilton
Dimensions:9in x 6 x 0.3 in | 1 gr
Page Count:110 pages
The poems in A Map of Rain Days address the beauty and shadows of life while navigating the realities of racism, addiction, suicide, rape, abuse and death. Ecstasy and loneliness, romance and terror are juxtaposed. Love is brutal and intoxicating, adolescence is "the carcass of youth." Yet still we live and love and come out kicking.
The poems in A Map of Rain Days span a lifetime, moving backwards from the loss of a mother to when the speaker was a "tiny girl in a third-floor walk-up." The title of the book comes from the poem of the same name, in which the speaker walks "down the corridors/in [her] mother's bruised shoes;" when she describes her mother's toes as "crooked and curled/in a misguided, arthritic map/of rain days," the speaker is describing the life she has lived.
Winter is a metaphor for isolation, darkness and death. The speaker lives in a country that "is an ice storm." Aunty and Uncle are "hidden in rock/and snow." Death and winter are inextricably linked: "Mother floats around the car/with the snow" and "snow...caresses a man who struggles/with his foolproof design/for suicide." Even love and longing are locked in winter: "bent over you/I become the stillness of night, the snow itself."
Love and loss feature in the poems: love for a mother and a daughter, longing for a lover, and the loss of a best friend. Love is overpowering. When the speaker has to move her mother out of her apartment on the eve of her daughter's birthday, "Love fills [her] up like a ballooon,/so full and stretched and thin [is she]." When her daughter moves across the continent, the speaker holds "tight to the pillow/that [she] laid [her] head upon/as if it were love/itself." When a friend dies unexpectedly, the speaker cannot let him go, and there is "a can of Diet Coke/that [she is] keeping for the next time/[he stops] by."
Love is both brutal and intoxicating. The speaker longs for a man who, "when [she pauses] to wipe/the sand from [her] eyes...[is] gone." Romance "has been chewed/out of [her]/kisses carved away," yet still she listens to a lover's "breath fall/and the cacophony of sheets/against [their] skin."
There is violence in love: a controlling husband who would "cut [her] breasts off/so no man/can look at them" and a lover who "turned [her] to ash that stuck/to the soles of [his] feet/during [his] tirades/and blackouts." In all of this, the speaker becomes "the thin voice itself/and little more." When she tries to escape, she turns around "to find him:/in his hands he holds all of me."
Living in exile is another motif in the book. Born and raised in Montreal, the speaker, whose background is South Asian, experiences "the swill and gore" of adolescence in a hostile Toronto suburb. Struggling to live in a world where "sticks and stones broke all of [her]," she wonders how her father learned "to put his feet down/on unfamiliar soil." But it is possible to look racism in the eye; responding to the racist taunts of a man on a bus, the speaker tells him "my mother's black coat/against the winter-white paysage is always/and only home/and he/should be so lucky." When the speaker has finally begun to feel that "in [her] tiny radius/of the world/[she is] almost white," Donald Trump wins the American election, and racism rears its ugly head full on.
However, despite all the hardships life throws at the speaker, life goes on, and she lives and loves and comes out stronger.
too-bright days.The author navigates a life felt full on, inhabiting all its beauty and shadows the
the mean streets of the suburbs,
the swill and goreof youth. Interwoven into this life are the realities of racism, addiction, suicide, rape, and death. And then clarity ensues.
A Map of Rain Days chronicles a life of loves and losses in tender, surreal, striking metaphors that limn a body tattooed with fragments of a life, a body whose “skin” is “opened/like slicing a peach.” Like “the sweet odour of chocolate,” Jennifer’s poems are rich, sensual with a simplicity that belies dense under-layers of sadness, of love for a mother, a daughter, of memories of an abusive relationship that still scars, of the taunts and cruelties a girl of colour in a white world endures. These haunting poems become like “sparks” that “consume... a forest” of contemplation on the ways a life of a contemporary woman is composed. This is a collection to savour. - Brenda Clews, author of Tiday Fury and Fugue in Green
Jennifer Hosein has established herself as an artist brave enough to harness the full spectrum of the feminine struggle. With her first collection of poems, A Map of Rain Days, she has commanded all of her artistic experience into verse, illuminating the sorrow of loss, the physical ecstasy of love, the horror of abuse, and the strength to heal and make peace with happiness—often within the same work. - Brandon Pitts, author of Tender in the Age of Fury and In the Company of Crows
Jennifer Hosein’s poetry is relevant, emotional, evocative, and beautiful. Jennifer’s poetry shows us what it’s like to be a person of colour in Canada without allowing identity to overshadow poetic craft. Her work combines the power of short story with the music of poetry, invoking the ubiquitous human experiences of losing people we love and finding our place in the world. Jennifer Hosein’s debut collection A Map of Rain Days at once illustrates the commonality and alienation that is characteristic of contemporary existence. We know Jennifer as a visual artist, now it is time to meet her as a poet. - Ivy Reiss, The Artis magazine
Like rain, which comes and goes, is here and not, but is always, always (and necessarily) returning, the speaker’s suffering is not presented as a phenomenon that she will progress beyond or definitively escape from. There is no world without rain, and trauma is a recurrent (but never ceaseless or omnipresent) element of the speaker’s environment. Alternating between vivacious and restrained, Hosein’s poems are alive to the panoply of human experience.- Carousel Magazine