“ A chandelier of winter hunger began to reverberate inside us, churning globules of acidity. Logic vacated the space behind our foreheads. We crawled over each other, creating fender benders that made our teeth knock together. We leaned over heaped plates and binged on pearls, smooth white stones with properties to take the appetite away. Their luxury was too heavy, made the abdomen cave in. From then on everything went close cropped, the mind only capable of capturing the illusion of an image, but not its essence. We considered this to be our most brilliant moment”
This is from “Definitions” and the images created mirror most of this collection, the poems have that metallic taste of 5am, with the night fading to a tannic grit on your teeth. This is the detritus of good times, where hope is a commodity long since exchanged for a series of moments.
Amphetamine Heart, is Liz Worth’s first collection of poetry, but not her first book, there are a couple of others, including a history of the Toronto punk scene* - which makes sense here as you can feel the spirit of that movement permeate these poems - the honesty here is visceral, raw, confrontational. Beyond the subject matter of this poetry, what I also like was her use of language phrases such as “The chafe of sleep walked my eyelids raw” and “Outside, it’s cold enough to snow, the hack of the wind a gut hook knife”, the imagery they burn onto your retina stays, making you recast your perception to allow for this glimpse into the chaos, paranoia and self-harm at the cold centre of this collection.
This poetry is deeply personal, exploring the darkest corners of her psyche with that most powerful of magnifying tools – language, the words shining a path through the fragments of her life, highlighting moments as though they were ostraca tossed aside. Yet it would be unfair to say this is all dark, there’s a humour that pokes out at the strangest moments, lines such as “comes dressed in lipstick shades named for the colours of abuse” and “ chewing on cuticles is not enough for morning protein”.
In Amphetamine Heart, the writer has written about a world / her world, that leaves you feeling uneasy, uncomfortable: the intent here is to disturb your sense of well being and leave you with a sense of voyeuristically peeking through someone else's curtains. In fact she is a great believer in the idea that art should move you, should disturb & unbalance your sense of equilibrium leaving their mark on you.
For Liz Worth Writing poetry is the culmination of many small moments, leading into explosions on a page and this collection definitely is that.
On Cheetah’s Speed
we are taut and directionless,
networks of revolutions suspended
like fingertips to a temple,
poised and blurring into white spider legs,
their ends painted an intrusive shade of red.
At this angle everything looks better from the left,
even the accelerated aging of blondes.
Warts of perspiration radiate,
glossed by black lights and exit signs.
We are marked as wounded, fragile,
the stimulated strength beneath us, between us,
Liz Worth, grew up in south Etobicoke, an old Toronto suburb , but is now based in Toronto. She is the author of Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond and a piece of surreal punk fiction called Eleven: Eleven. Her influences are writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Gwendolyn MacEwan, particularly for her book Magic Animals. She was also influenced by music, and would study lyrics of the musicians she admired.
* Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond