Every Shameless Ray

poems by Leslie Timmins

Inanna Publications, October 2018


The capacity of the world to signal and illuminate, restore and repair, fuels the poems in Every Shameless Ray. Intellectually curious, emotionally acute and playful in form, these poems rely upon the unreliable – the accidents and reversals that expose prescriptive narratives of identity, desire, love and war. In a poem about a child’s misunderstood words, and in another about the shock of a Matisse painting, habits of perception are disrupted. Liminal spaces open up — in the movements of a man’s hands as he eases out the under-row of slick black papaya seeds; when a tipped-over kayaker rides a river’s current upside-down.

The heart may ache, grave illness threaten, war rage and art tear down its foundations, but a shameless calling persistently reveals a “fine disorder” in Every Shameless Ray. In a time of social and political disruption, these poems explore and engage personal, social, and political realms intimately, contemplatively, and in protest.



What the Previews are Saying


If half the pleasure of Timmins’ poetry comes from discovering surprising new perspectives, as in “The Field Speaks of Its Persistence,” much of the rest comes from our sense of her tactile control of texture and language as she ranges from the endearingly domestic through the joyfully sensual to encounters with disease. Not only in her concluding Matisse sequence, but throughout the book, the poet displays a vibrant, painterly awareness of the colours and shapes of the real world that helps us to re-envision the familiar. Hers is an imagination we can trust.

– Christopher Levenson, Governor General’s Award nominee and author
of A tattered coat upon a stick and Night Vision

Whether traversing the fraught terrain of cancer or depicting the ecstatic in Matisse’s canvasses, Timmins explores the nature of perception, its shifts and shadows, in finely wrought, beautifully crafted poems. This collection shimmers with a radiant engagement with life.

– Fiona Tinwei Lam, author of Intimate Distances,
Enter the Chrysanthemum, and The Bright Well

Leslie Timmins’ Every Shameless Ray unfolds in three linked movements: “The Calling,” “Echo,” and “A Fine Disorder.” The culminating sequence is a tour de force of ekphrastic reflection on the art and life of Henri Matisse that unifies the various themes of brokenness and regeneration in the volume as a whole. Though her poetic meditation on Matisse’s windows, Timmins opens readers to the French artist’s multi-dimensional planes of space and colour, landing us in the place of the open heart, a “First Supper” of sacramental feminine presence. Enter the world of these poems and be shamelessly transformed.

– Susan McCaslin, author of Into the Open: Poems New and Selected


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