Tag Archives: I Am A Narwhal

Best Thing I’ve Heard This Week: SP CE, Pt. 3

11 Jul

SP CEbooks’ most recent publication is Kelsey Reifert’s chapbook I am a NarwhalThe collection offers a series of untitled poems strung together as a fragmented narrative about the exploits of a lovelorn narhwhal. The opening section reads:

I am a narwhal
in a movie where I
love a little girl who
has shiny earrings.
She reads stories
to these stuffed
animals and I
hear her through the
floor of the igloo. The
movie we are in will only
be funny to kids. It is
sad for me. I really
want this little girl to
love me and look—she’s
right there.

The poems in Narwhal read like “stories” or a “movie” that, perhaps, “will only / be funny to kids” in the same manner that the Surrealists, as Breton wrote in his “Manifesto of Surrealism,” sought to “turn back toward…childhood which, however [their] guides and mentors may have botched it, still strikes [them] as somehow charming.”

But more than a return to a charming childhood, Narwhal narrates a story of unrequited love with the narwhal-speaker always pining at a distance for the “little girl” in these poems. No more clearly does the trope of impossible love evince itself, than it does in the following fragment found near the conclusion of the chapbook:

The echo-call I yell and yell
keeps bouncing back to me.
No others seem to get it.
I am a narwhal alone
under Arctic water.

“Alone” and calling out for the one he loves, the narwhal’s song “keeps bouncing back” to  him. While his song might not reach the girl of his dreams, readers can certainly hear the “music” as it “booms / on top of the ice.”

Below are two videos of Reifert reading from I am a Narwhal at the SP CE studio in Lincoln, NE last month: