The Disorder of Love by Karen Connelly


These are poems about love--for friends, for landscapes, for family--and serious lust. Sometimes wild, sometimes quietly vibrant, the borders of this work are hard to define, as are the women and men Connelly celebrates in these pages: the junkie Voula in Greece dancing rembetiko with her young women lovers, a young East Indian guitarist who wakes the poet up in an old colonial house, a desperate rant in the street for an elusive temptress named Jazz. There is the body’s wild delight as well as the rage and despair of love spurned--one commentator compared some of the poems in The Disorder of Love to Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. 

But desperation shapeshifts into desire of a different order when the poems return to the Greek landscape, Connelly’s second home. “I’ve dreamt my body as a storm, / but this season the calm rolls closer / from the east. / Across the water the hills of Turkey / shimmer and sway like a purple caravan.” What is most remarkable in this collection comes at the end, when the poet gives her readers the rare, illuminated chaos of joy.

The literary critic Philip Marchand called this book “febrile and undisciplined”--a serious fault, according to him, but a splendid one. 

First Edition, Gutter Press, Toronto, 1997. 109 pages, with photos. (Out of print.)

Second Edition, Turnstone Press, Winnipeg, 2000, republished with other poems under the title Grace and Poison. 196 pages.