Otolith: The Tension Between Nature and Humankind

This is a beautiful collection

In Otolith the poems by Emily Nilsen hit you subtly with earthy notes and a keen observation of the tension between nature and humankind. An otolith is an ear stone that can aid us in finding ourselves in space. As life often is an uneasy journey of finding ourselves, these poems can act like the very otolith itself, helping you to find some balance within your own life.

The unlikely parallels and emotions that exist in Nilsen’s writing makes even the most mundane of things appear in a way that seems magic. “Empathize with viruses, like most of us, they fight to survive” Nilsen writes in “Meanwhile.” The quiet attention given to small details of people living in and amongst nature jumps out from every page. In this self-reflective collection, written about Nilsen’s time spent writing her first novel while living in the British Columbian wilderness, we see the clashing and tension of these two worlds. The past, the future, the supernatural and the hidden frequencies of life are all examined through the microscope of her words. Words bear powerful witness to meditations on humanity and the plastic bits that surround us. Can we co-exist? Or will there always be a sharp contrast that binds us?

These poems help you not feel so alone in the world as you become alive with self-recognition. The words are cozy and comforting with strong pangs of comprehension within the human condition of loneliness and the realization that you are not the only one who feels a certain way. Nilsen’s observations are both haunting and surreal. The human nature of comparing and contrasting with others comes in silent pangs of revelation and recognition among the pages.

The white spaces in the books are necessary, providing room to breathe, grieve and reflect on Nilsen’s beautiful words.

A stunning collection.

Emily Nilsen
Goose Lane Editions

Written By

Laurie Burns is an English as additional language teacher to immigrants, literacy volunteer and voracious reader living in Halifax.

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