Tag Archives: Kathryn Mockler

A Product to Ponder and Reflect Upon | Review of “Some Theories” by Kathryn Mockler and David Poolman (2017) Some Theories Press

sometheories

It easy enough to ignore a lot of the phrases and images that swirl around us in this day in age. Our media-rich lives are bombarded with words and phrases that we ignore most items that come our why. So it takes a person with a well-honed talent to make most people notice their product. And the small volume called Some Theories by Kathryn Mockler and David Poolman is such an excellent example of a product for willing readers to notice and ponder upon.

Theories (Page 2)

People with children do not want to listen to you theories about the end of the world. Ghosts do not want to hear from the living. People without swimming pools do not want to know that people with swimming pools had a good swim.

Mockler has been a writer who has always made me question my reality in a round-about way and this book certainly does that. (Check out her Instagram feed where she posts interesting and poetic comments under the hashtag #thisisntaconversation (Link here)) Mockler’s phrases sound absurd at first until a reader considers the statement. We realize that the world is absurd and Mockler has made an observation showing that in a bold and frank way.

LET’S PLAY OIL SLICK (Page 10)

CHARACTERS

BOY

GIRL

BOY: Let’s play oil slick.

GIRL: I get to be the bird, and you can be the rescuer.

BOY: I want to be the bird. Now wash my hair.

GIRL: You wash my hair. You were the bird last time.

BOY: I’m not playing unless I get to play the character I want.

GIRL: Why don’t you be the bird, and I’ll be the sea otter?

BOY:  Who will rescue us?

Girl: Nobody.

END

Poolman’s illustrations are just as illuminating as Mockler’s phrase. They appear simple and somewhat puzzling yet as one ponders the image, they are complex messages about items we hold dear in our lives.

 

this
Scanned image from Page 41 of “Some Theories.” Illustration by David Poolman.

Some Theories by Kathryn  Mockler and David Poolman is certainly a unique read. If a reader takes the time to look at it beyond a simple volume and thinks about the images and words, they will note the unique perspectives this book brings forward.

*****

Link to Kathryn Mockler’s website

Link to a website about David Poolman

theories

 

 

Learning Along with Prue | Review of “Freight” by Kathryn Mockler (2015) Found Press Media

Freight

There is this difficult notion in society that families are suppose to be this perfect unit that provides us comfort and nurturing. Yet the truth is that families are made up of individuals whose personalities are impossible to deal with. When we try to deal with those people as children, the impression they leave on us can be damaging on us for the rest of our lives. But we need to openly reflect on those people in our adult lives to deal with those traumas they caused us. And reading literature helps us reflect on our own families and our upbringings instead of repressing angers and pains. And Kathryn Mockler’s ebook Freight is a great example of such a story.

Page 5

My grandmother is the type of woman that always remembers to stand up straight and to tell others to do the same. On our yearly visits to Peterborough, I try to avoid my grandmother as much as possible. She doesn’t think I’m very bright. She doesn’t think my mother works enough with me, and so, in the week we spend there, she is determined to make me smarter. She brings out flash cards and makes me do spelling bees for money.

-Look, Vera, look at that. She can’t add, my grandmother says. -Prue, don’t count on your fingers.

I give mother “the look” until she finally says, -Leave her alone. She gets enough of that at school.

We are dropped into Prue’s life just as she is becoming self-aware and questioning the world around her. And there is something wrong with the world around her or at least with the people who should be caring for her in this world. But what is it? As we follow through Prue’s visit with her grandparents, we read as she begins to realize perhaps no one is perfect.

Page 10

My mother gets herself another beer from the cooler. I watch my mother watch Dermot puts his arm absentmindedly around Margaret’s shoulder.

-She drives me crazy too, I say.

My mother laughs. -It doesn’t really affect you because she’s not your mother. You’re just lucky I tried so hard not to be like her.

I don’t know when I noticed my mother getting drunk. Maybe it was when she started talking to that man, a friend of Dermot’s. It seemed like one moment she was fine and the next she was slurring her words. It’s the slurring that bothers me the most because then everyone else knows how drunk she is.

There is a complex therapy that seemed to happen when reading this simple coming-of-age story. We build an empathy with Prue but we also ponder our own lives when we back in Prue’s age. We carefully consider our upbringing and the people around us at that time. And we then look at ourselves now. Do we act better? Do we behave better to the youngster around us now?

Page 12

I feel a bit sorry for my grandmother. She probably has hurt feelings. When my mother leaves the room to get ready, I don’t follow her. I’m glad my mother is going out. I don’t even want to look at her.

I think my grandmother has sensed that something is wrong because she doesn’t bother  me all night. No flash cards or spelling bees. We have a light supper and watch TV.

Kathryn Mockler has a great way of making readers seriously consider their world around themselves with her words and that is exactly what she has done with Freight. Not only do we build empathy with the character but we ponder our own existence on several levels. In short, doing what any piece of literature should do.

*****

Link to Kathryn Mockler’s website

Link to Found Press Media’s website for Freight

 

Pointing Out the Foolishiness of Our Ways | Review of “The Purpose Pitch” by Kathryn Mockler (2015) Mansfield Press

Pitch

We all do things that make no sense at times. Be it a bad habit or a misused word or even a glance at something forbidden, we are all engaged in something that makes no sense or serves no purpose. But in our day-to-day lives, do we see that how nonsensical or foolish or even harmful those actions are. Kathryn Mockler has given us a mirror of some of modern civilization’s foolishness in her collection of poetry called The Purpose Pitch.

World 1 (Page 12)

World,  I’m worried about you. Everything is so sad. I had a dream I died and being dead was like being behind a glass wall where you could see and hear everything but no one could see or hear you like a fly in a jar. When you’re a ghost you are constantly spying constantly spying, constantly eavesdropping, but you don’t have anyone to tell your secrets to – even if you witness a murder or an elaborate plot by the government against the people. When you are dead there is no CIA. Ghosts can’t gossip with other ghosts. It’s not part of the plan.

Mockler uses different styles of writing AND different scenes to show us what is off in our civilization. It takes a careful reading and re-reading at times to grasp at the message that she is trying to convey but the euphoria that the mind’s eye receives when it grasps a concept is illuminating and addictive.

The Blob (Excerpt – page 25)

-A blob is sitting on the couch because people have become blobs. People can also time travel and talk to each other from the future and the past.

-You mean when you are fifty you can talk to your husband when he was ten he’ll talk back to you?

-Yes. Or your mother or sister or you best friend.

-That is confusing.

-It’s how we communicate now. We’ve solved the issue of time.

-It sounds like we’ve made time more confusing.

-You’re just saying that because you are ten. When you are seventy like me, you will understand how great it is. You’ll understand that you as a seventy-year-old have been worn down by life and lost all of your pizazz. For example, I’d rather talk to my husband before he had all those back problems. I’d rather talk to that version of him than the person he is now. Now he’s always sore, always complaining. Nothing is good enough.

-It sounds like you are putting him down. It sounds like you don’t like him anymore.

-Not at all. In fact, since the time travel, we hardly ever fight.

Mockler on occasion will mash-up or mix-up elements comments from our society to show a common trait or thread in society. By doing so she awakes many observations and thoughts in our minds which – perhaps – will lead to change and improvement.

APRIL 3- MAY 31 2014 (Except page 54)

VANCOUVER POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING AFTER A WOMAN WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED JOGGING THROUGH STANLEY PARK MONDAY MORNING

SOUTH WALES POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING ALLEGATIONS A WOMAN WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED IN A VW VAN IN JERSEY MARINE

ACCORDING TO POLICE, ON THURSDAY, MAY 1, AROUND 10:30 P.M., A WOMAN WAS SEXUALLY ASSUALTED ON COMO LAKE AVENUE NEAR WESTWOOD STREET.

HYDERBAD: DESPITE CLAIMS OF THE CYBERABAD POLICE OF INTENSE PATROLLING ON THE OUTER RING ROAD (ORR), A WOMAN WAS SEXUALLY ASSULTED, STABBED AND LEFT TO DIE ON THE EIGHT-LANE CARRIAGEWAY AT HIMATYATSAGAR LATE ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT

A WOMAN WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED NEAR WASTE GROUND IN CORBY WHERE A DODOG WALKER WAS STABBED JUST DAYS EARLIER

POLICE APPEAL FOR WITNESSES AFTER A WOMAN WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED ON A TRAIN BETWEEN CENTRAL AND PENRITH.

This book may appear to be a slim volume but the thoughts in it are complex and need to be read carefully to fully appreciate what is being said. These are thoughts that need to be pondered in all senses of the meaning of the word. This isn’t a book that rushed through and forgotten.

WORLD 8 (Page 87)

World, if it was just you and me standing at the edge of a cliff, and I could only save one of us, I wouldn’t take a moment to even think. I’d give you a little nudge to speed things along as you tumbled all the way down and cracked into pieces. But don’t worry. This is a good thing. I’m glad I discovered just how much I despise you. I really feel better about myself now. I feel better about where thing stand between us. I would have come to talk to you sooner, but I got busy and then I forgot.

The Purpose Pitch by Kathryn Mockler gives us an opportunity to consider the unnoted foolishness in the world. Her words and phrases need to be carefully pondered here but the effort is worthwhile for the enlightenment it brings.

Link to Kathryn Mockler’s website

Link to Mansfield Press’ webpage for The Purpose Pitch

“Often the poems I like best are the ones I’m still trying to figure out.” / Q & A with Poet Kathryn Mockler

Recently noted poet, screenwriter, and editor Kathryn Mockler agreed to answer a few questions online for me. Her noted works include “Onion Man” and “The Saddest Place on Earth.” (Links are to reviews on my old blog)

1) Why do you use poetry to write? Have you ever tried any other forms of writing to express yourself?

 

KM: I write in a variety of forms. I write short fiction and, until the last couple of years, screenwriting was my primary genre. If a poem occurs to me, I write a poem. If a short story idea comes to mind, I write that. Usually it’s the project that dictates the form for me. Sometimes I adapt my stories or poems into screenplays or videos.

 

2) Who are some other writers that you admire? What are you currently reading right now?

 

KM: The writers I admire most concern themselves with social or political critiques. Kafka comes to mind as one of my favourite writers and Kurt Vonnegut too.

At the moment, I’m reading One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses by Lucy Corin and The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance by Franco “Fifo” Berardi.

3) I recently reviewed a poet who became ecstatic over the review I wrote about her work. She said I was the first reviewer who didn’t complain that “her words didn’t rhyme. Do you find that poetry suffers from a ‘stereotypical’ image that keeps readers away?

 

KM: It does to some extent. The way poetry was taught when I went to school didn’t make it very appealing, so I understand the resistance. Poetry can feel alienating to new readers because sometimes it is ambiguous and readers feel like they’re not “getting” the poem. One way to move beyond that is to not worry about what it means and break the poem down into its various parts and just ask yourself some questions. What are some of the connotations of the words, what are the lines doing, how is the sound of the language affecting the tone, who is the speaker of the poem, what is the connection between the speaker and the subject, etc. Just being open to the fact that you might get lost in a poem can take away the pressure of feeling like you have to understand it on a first read. Often the poems I like best are the ones I’m still trying to figure out.

 

4) Onion Man deals with a young woman’s role in a factory. People that I have introduced that book to them have talked how the book made them re-think their role in the workplace AND how they deal with their teenage daughter. Is that the type of reaction you get from people who have read Onion Man?

 

KM: Many people have told me it reminded them of their past or present jobs or what London was like in the 1980s or being a teenager.

 

5) At a recent reading of Onion Man, some people around me bristled at some of the language used in the book. How does that make you feel?

 

KM: Well, I’d rather have them bristling than yawning. The book is written from the point of view of an eighteen-year-old girl, so some to of the language is reflective of that voice.

 

6) What has been people’s reaction to The Saddest Place on Earth? Do you find people are getting the premise of the book?

 

KM: The reaction has been very positive. I’ve had some nice reviews in The Winnipeg Free Press, Geist, This Magazine, Canadian Poetries.

 

A couple of the poems will be included in an anthology edited by Jonathan Ball and Ryan Fitzpatrick called Why Poetry Sucks: An Anthology of Humorous Experimental English Canadian Poetry which is coming out with Insomniac in the Spring 2014.

 

7) Are you planning any new writing projects in the future?

 

KM: I’m always working on a variety of projects at once. Some poetry, a screenplay, a novel idea that I’ve been kicking around for a few years.

 

At the moment, I’m working on a series of poems that I’m posting on my blog. They are a response to my concerns about the Canadian government’s attack on scientists and the environment.

 

8) Your Twitter and Facebook comments are filled with unique and quirky observations about the world around you. What inspires you the most to comment about the world?

 

KM: I guess my bleak view of humanity and the world inspires me to comment on it. I usually try to do it through humour. I suppose I see these updates as little poems—a way of writing when I’m too busy to write.

 

9) Your husband has illustrated both your books. Does the role in helping you with your work end there or does he play a bigger part?

 

KM: My husband is the first reader of everything I write. He’s also my humour gage. If I can make him laugh, then I can usually make other people laugh. We also collaborate on video and art projects. We collaborated on a video series called The Reluctant Narrator which was based on several poems from The Saddest Place on Earth.

 

10) You are presently teaching creative writing at the University of Western Ontario. Does doing that job help you with your creative writing projects?

 

KM:  It doesn’t help me with my projects specifically, but it’s a nice compliment to writing. It’s nice to teach in an area where the students are genuinely interested and excited. Their enthusiasm can be contagious.

Kathryn Mockler’s website