Get Me Out of Here

Talonbooks

Reviewed by Katie Stobbart

Airports, like subway stations and bus exchanges, have their unique characters and movements, small, intrusive rituals, and a single equalizing feature: everyone is in transit. Around the world, one airport is much like another — the people within it caught in a momentary terminal, awaiting arrival or departure.

The airport settings of Get Me Out of Here span several countries but seem to represent one universal airport situated somewhere in the fabric of Murakami’s poems. Divided into four sections — “Departures,” “Connections,” “Pick-ups,” and Arrivals” — the poems are drawn from airport observations requested by Murakami in an online open call. Through them, Murakami explores people and their stories between the lines: lines of interpretation, lines to and through airport security and waiting for baggage, and lines of poetry.

In “flattening spirits joining grey tiles groutly,” literal lines divide each line of the poem on the page. Murakami writes, “As if you ever existed anywhere but here, in this line,” sparking an acute awareness of the poetic line and what it aims to accomplish. The space of the airport becomes the space of the poem; the poet’s task is to fit the human into it.

Poems breaking out of the 14-line forms (recalling sonnets) are poems that have necessarily cracked to accommodate their contents. Life in motion — life in transit — is tricky to contain within the bars and verses of Shakespeare or Petrarch, and the challenges of technology, surveillance, increased global mobility and shifting language force the poetic line to contort and distort its traditional boundaries. “A bird is having trouble with the airport floor.” is written in an open-source programming language, for instance.

This review is excerpted from a longer piece published in CV2.

Katie Stobbart is a writer and editor from Abbotsford, British Columbia. Her poems, prose and art appear in Louden Singletree, and in a co-authored chapbook soon to haunt local library shelves, dentists’ offices and hotel lobbies. She has edited The Cascade newspaper, Louden Singletree literary magazine and the Pacific Rim Review of Books. Two manuscripts of her poetry and short fiction are underway.