Slows: Twice

A review of Slows: Twice by T. Liem

Published on July 5, 2023

T. Liem’s new collection Slows: Twice is an immersive and thought-provoking exploration of time, identity, and language itself. Chock-full of versions, inversions, and revisions of the self, Liem writes and rewrites poems, inviting the reader to think through the significance of repetition and change from one instance to another. 

Slows: Twice
T. Liem

Coach House Books

The concept and image of the mirror recurs almost endlessly throughout the collection. The speaker strikingly announces, “Spooked, I revealed myself / in every mirror.” “Slow Mirror” follows swiftly, introducing the idea of repetition and slowness, as “let    us    slow,” “a g a i n  again  a    g   a     i    n,” “now    a g a   in …” dance playfully across the page. The poem’s inversion appears in the second half of the collection, quite literally printed as a mirror image of itself. The collection folds into itself as it begins again partway through and revises, mirrors, and rewrites its first half. At once rewriting the self, the speaker declares, “Revise me as the poem of belated apology.” 

The collection’s form approaches fragmentation, but the speaker seeks connection everywhere. The speaker visits their father’s birthplace, Jogjakarta, listens to a stranger’s phone call in a Motel 6 in Alberta, and describes intimate domestic moments with their partner. Moving smoothly between concrete poems, prose poetry, and lyrics, the collection is wonderfully varied and infinitely engaging – you’ll want to sit with it and read it again and again.mRb

Salena Wiener is a poet and incoming PhD student in English Literature at Simon Fraser University, focusing on Romantic women’s writing, female sexuality, and ecology. She is the author of bodies like gardens (Cactus Press, 2023).



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