Review: The Pit, Tara Borin


Set in and around “a small-town, subarctic dive bar,” The Pit is a superb debut.

It’s a book of poetry that finds impressive focus in spare, precise language that leaves implied connections hanging in the air. A church key quietly carried around is a source of comfort and “secret to speed,” while working. In a poem about fathers (“Father’s Day”) a possible tragedy is foreshadowed in four concise lines from what I assume to be two voices: “she’s on the honour roll / he gets into a lot of trouble / if anyone hurts her / that’s my boy.”

There are poignant and empathetic portraits here, as the poet ponders a particular drinker and wonders “who he’d be / in a kinder timeline,” and readers are introduced to a night janitor who “Hears God / in the electricity.”

But as fascinating as the people are here, the landscape is also a character, and a refreshingly different one for many readers, particularly in strong poems like “Flood,” in which “Neighbouring buildings lift / from their cribbing and jostle / against each other / like drunks commiserating / in the street.” And this particular poem has an ending that may or may not be poetic exaggeration, but regardless, it’s perfect. 

“We’ll Never Have Enough of This,” is a found poem using graffiti from a washroom, and while it’s not quite clear if the title is also found poetry, it doesn’t matter because it works well. 

Personally, I’ve troubled to put my own poems in a particular order rather than group them into sections that seemed a bit arbitrary, but here I thought it worked well to have sections like “The Regulars,” and “The Hard Stuff.” Is it possible to have section envy? I’m not quite sure.

Here’s what’s important: this is a mature, self-assured and sharply written book. I hope it finds readers, because it quite clearly announces a new talent. 

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