25th Trillium Award

Weekend poem: Leigh Kotsilidis throws brain into a headlight

Share |

Today, for your apres-pancake pleasure, a bang-up poem by Leigh Kotsilidis, author of Hypotheticals (Coach House, 2011).

Arguing about determinism vs. neuroplasticity might be a good way to kill the conversation at a dinner party, but Kotsilidis bravely chooses this topic anyway. She populates the no man’s land between those binary opposites with a carefully controlled avalanche of weird, absorbing, hilarious, unnerving, oddly necessary stuff.

I would be pleased to have her over for dinner anytime. I also get the sense that she could make amazing, David Altmejd-esque sculptures with the junk inside my closets.

Her collection, by the way, is lovely, and recently had the improbable honour of being reviewed in American Scientist.

Determinism vs. Neuroplasticity

What if it’s the oddballs who are stacked against you,
ready to skew every system you use? So that the loons

you call drifters are, and always have been, crazies.
And snow slipping from a roof is a limp

shoe-size family soaring toward you—a jewellery box
of jays, a change purse of field mice. Makes birds

or rodents in hand better than those in ambush.
Keeps skies clear. Leaves no room for style

of clock you’ll buy, or that goslings adopt any moving
object as mother. But what if all these thoughts change brain

configurations; or what’s more, if the chunk the brain thinks
it’s thinking with is changing too? Does this not make sense—

a series of loose ends? Prove the mind will make nightmares
out of anything? We’ve all watched moths

throwing themselves against headlights, dogs barking
into wallpapered rooms, cashiers struggling to make

eye contact. There’s just no telling which end is loosest.

Advanced Search