After Hours

Lettricity

By Kimberly Bourgeois

A review of Lettricity by Kaie Kellough

Published on October 1, 2004

Lettricity
Kaie Kellough

Cumulus Press
$15
paper
112pp
0-9733499-1-3

In Lettricity, Kaie Kellough’s debut collection, the performance poet’s Caribbean roots rub up against frostbitten Montreal, the “Crystal City,” where “years / begin and end / not in fire / but in ice.”

Live, Kellough is rhythm personified. His jazzy, blues-tinged voice fills the room with cool, catchy beats. Would his hip music lose its hop when committed to paper? Happily, no. Ample musicality grooves across the pages of Lettricity.

With smooth, rhythmic assurance, Kellough winds his way in and out of Montreal’s red-light districts, willing the reader to step with him “down the flightless / fall of stairs,” an after-hours world in which the barmaid “pours sweet shots of regret.” Never does he try to smooth the contours of Montreal’s rough edges. In “The Old Stoop Sitters” we meet those with “gargoyle faces” and “pickled eyes” who “drink / wine and don’t work,” and in several poems, Kellough casts a satirical eye on Quebec politics. He speaks from the perspective of the “impure,” that is, those who are non-pure laine, or in his words, “the immigrant laine.”

Though Lettricity is a window overlooking the wrong side of the tracks, a thread of beauty weaves its way through the pages. Sipping on his bière rousse, Kellough lifts a glass to Montreal, sorry sights and all, getting down with “la langue de l’angoisse officielle,” the “français cassé, déclassé.” mRb

Kimberly Bourgeois is a Montreal-based writer/singer-songwriter. Visit her at kimberlybourgeois.com for news about her forthcoming EP.

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