* Winner of the 2020 Trillium Book Award for Poetry
* Winner of the 2020 Raymond Souster Award
* Shortlisted for 2020 Pat Lowther Award
Unmeaningable welcomes you to the freak show, where the monster on display is a culture that stigmatizes sickness and a system that shames the sufferer. Behold the wonder of the ages, a human mind in a human body, dissected and displayed for entertainment. Witness the ritual of surgical sacrifice! Observe the indignity of institutionalization! Be astounded by the indifference of ableism and ignorance! This uncanny collection of “crippled” sonnets features a thrilling display of cannibals, chimeras, and the crucial question: What meaning can be made of a life lived in pain and isolation?
"Bold, candid and defiant, Roxanna Bennett’s Unmeaningable is a startling examination of the “self’s need to be fixed / or named.” Through emphatic, headlong diction and images, Bennett documents the struggles of illness and isolation, armed with battered faith and searing introspection. Both despairing and brave, these poems are unforgettable." – Trillium Book Award for Poetry Jury
"Roxanna Bennett gifts us a richly imagistic collection that operates both as a poetic monologue and a multi-voiced conversation –about and with pain, illness, familial trauma, gender, class, medicalization, ableist tropes and CripLit. With searing language, Bennett details her struggle with, capitulation to, and unapologetic insistence on, the un-meaning of the disabled/un-enabled other. unmeaningable is an incisive and powerful refusal to have our bodyminds made inspiration, freak show or cheap metaphor for those in the 'unclimbable tower' of normal. These poems writhe." – Sandra Alland, author of Naturally Speaking and Blissful Times
"The poems in Roxanna Bennett’s unmeaningable build with form and breaks, something like a “hyacinth’s bent head” that might ask how is it wrong? Concerned with the body, how it moves or doesn’t, how it is named or othered, how the body remembers and longs, belongs. Sticky with song, as in “cut mother tongues, sated sire songbees,/ smother lungs”. The poems often are made song, the “little song” of the sonnet constructed here with a wry musing focus, pondering the barrier of inside and outside, as they grind and explode grief. Elsewhere Bennett writes: “My body is a grave and I’m the memorial”. An astonishing collection." – Hoa Nguyen, author of As Long As Trees Last
"In Bennett’s work, there is a sense that she has listened too long to normative expectations, and by cracking the sonnet she is also cracking the pain of a shell that does not allow her pain its due." – Robert Colman, PRISM international