Know Your Monkey
Know Your Monkey is the debut poetry collection by Toronto novelist and screenwriter Elyse Friedman. Plainspoken yet vivid, funny yet poignant, these are poems that tell stories. In ‘Bleeding & Laughing at Pineway & Cummer’, a group of teens ‘dizzy with spring and spirits and speed’ race a van through the suburbs after grade nine prom. In ‘The Great Thing My Cousin George Did’, a man simultaneously drives two cars from Toronto to Hamilton: ‘100 yards then hop out/run back to/the other car/100 yards past the first car /and so on / and so on / with the polio / leg.’ In ‘Paradise Mural’ we meet a woman at a Holiday Inn singles’ dance ‘who always tried to giggle / but it came off the gangplank of her tongue / like it had been / pushed’. Friedman writes candidly about her own experiences with love, family, and work. In ‘Screenwriting 101’, she rails against the formulaic rules that have come to govern the craft of movie-writing. In ‘Rescue’ she fantasizes about being stranded on a desert island with Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski. Never precious or inscrutable, Know Your Monkey gives us rhythmical slices of real and imagined life.