37 | Karen Solie | Wellwater

Vallum Chapbook Series No. 37
Karen Solie

Ghosts and memories recur. There are portals here to other worlds, ecosystems you might blink and miss. Everything exists in relation. Childhood is a site of wonder and decay; a future already folded into the past. In the title poem, Solie’s narrator fills a watertank from a well that will someday be spoiled, the ground already changing underneath it.

My last act before closing the tap
To take the hose by the neck and drink,
Taste the cathedral’s rock and temperature,
The water hard and the table high.
The water then, you could still drink it.

 “Look around you,” advises the final line of “Basement Suite,” the first poem in Karen Solie’s Wellwater. Solie follows her own instruction, bringing a clear eye and reflective wit to her observed surroundings, from a wall colour that feels threadbare to a vine that climbs with pain. Solie is interested in what animates things, how they occupy a position, manifest a particular glow. “Each old thing in its new place must prove its worth yet again,” she writes of dust disturbed. Fungi and algae give off light together “in a collaboration that obscures / the individual collaborators.” Objects take on life and the living are objectified. “I was an empty bottle on the floor / of a church filling with dust,” Solie writes, privileging no one state of being over another. —Rosie Long Decter

Author’s Bio

Karen Solie is a half-time lecturer in English and Creative Writing for the University of St Andrews in Scotland. The rest of the time she is in Canada. Her sixth collection of poetry will be published in 2025.



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