Sylvia Legris

Sylvia Legris was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and now lives in Saskatchewan. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Conjunctions, and Granta, and her third collection of poetry, Nerve Squall, won the 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize.

The Hideous Hidden

Poetry by Sylvia Legris

In her first full-length collection published in the United States, Sylvia Legris probes and peels, carves and cleaves, amputates and dissects, to reveal the poetic potential of human and animal anatomy. Starting with the Greek writings of Hippocrates and the Latin language of medicine, and drawing from Leonardo da Vinci’s Anatomical Manuscripts, the dermatologist Robert Willan’s On Cutaneous Diseases (1808), and Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil, Legris infuses each poem with unique rhythms that roll off the tongue.…
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Poetry Pamphlets 1–4

New Directions is happy to announce the publication of a new series of Poetry Pamphlets, a reincarnated version of the “Poet of the Month” and “Poets of the Year” series James Laughlin published in the 1940s, which brought out such eclectic hits as William Carlos Williams’s The Broken Span, Delmore Schwartz’s poetic play Shenandoah, John Donne’s Some Poems and a Devotion, and Yvor Winters’s Giant Weapon, among many others. The New Directions Poetry Pamphlets will highlight original work by writers from around the world, as well as forgotten treasures lost in the cracks of literary history.…
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Pneumatic Antiphonal

Poetry by Sylvia Legris

A fun, humming, bio-physiological word-whizzing flight into birdsong penned by the young Canadian poet Sylvia Legris — her first publication in the U.S. The theory of corpuscular flight is the cardinal premise of red birds carrying song-particles carrying oxygen. Erythrocytic. Sticky. Five quarts of migration.
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In The Hideous Hidden, Legris performs a poetic autopsy that untethers the language of the body and its “hideous hidden” from the morgue, the medical lab, the anatomy book—spaces from which women for centuries were long excluded—and creates from the history and language of this body her own stranger thing.

—Adriana X. Jacobs

Anatomical and medical language, cold and clinical in other contexts, becomes sensuous musical terrain; the sonic atmosphere Legris creates is as thick and slippery as the innards she describes.

Publishers Weekly

Legris’s microscopic attention is compelling and seductive, and from that narrow view it unexpectedly expands to tackle past and present, scientific and literary, private and public, and the rich histories that go with these dichotomies. Pulsing with secretions and excretions, her poetry saturates our imagination and invigorates our curiosity.

—Eleanor Chandler, Prac Crit

In her hands, language refracts in ways which break open etymology. Legris’s poems build like chords from sub- to super-sonic and, even at their most rapid and heightened point, sustain the force of poetic enquiry. There is always, as she says, ‘something on your hook, you feel it.’

—Griffin Prize Citation

Her work crackles with exuberant wackiness.

CBC

Rapidly gets deep and electric as the corded nerves running through the spinal channel.

—Lightsey Darst, Bookslut

The Hideous Hidden peels back the skin and takes us on a tour of our ‘fleshes,’ our ‘complicated riddle of meats,’ the ‘Vast. Vas. Vascular. Bladder-drenched city of organs.’ It is a tour de force through the vocabulary of the body’s parts and functions in sickness and health, waking and sleeping. With more than a passing glance at the history of its description. Most of all, it is a book that makes anatomy sing.

—Rosmarie Waldrop
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