Karyotype (Brick Books, 2015)
“Karyotype is for me a crucial text in the work of reimagining what it is to be human… I am grateful, as well as inspired, to find an artwork performing this essential task.” —Don McKay
Reviews and Interviews:
Karyotype, Kim Trainor
Rapacious Reads, June 4, 2018, Some biology/archaeology/archival poetry (video review)
“Of the closing sequence, “Nothing is lost,” Trainor has commented that it “places emphasis on the transformative effects of objects in human lives, which is linked to the poem’s exploration of objects found in the mass graves of the Srebrenica genocide.” It circles, prayer-like, a coda or expanded cadence without narration, and dazzles with its form (strict abecedarius in which each stanza contains eight lines, each line following with the same initial letter), in itself a stunning achievement. Buy this book.”
—Barbara Myers, “Tenderly Urgent: Kim Trainor’s Karyotype,” Arc Poetry Magazine, October 9, 2016
“[“Nothing is Lost”] explores the aftermath of the Srebrenica genocide in 1995 in which thousands of Bosnian Muslims were massacred. Such profound cultural and personal loss is almost beyond language. Taking as inspiration the International Committee of the Red Cross Book of Belongings, a publication of photographs and personal effects, the poet creates an alphabet of loss, weaving images of a glove, a marble, notebook, buttons – exquisitely particular personal items – with insights into the ways artifacts themselves become saturated with human sentience. Carefully ordered into 26 sections, the work is sharp and contained in its craft, yet its notes resonate across time and distance. The elegiac power of the poem carries scraps of cloth, rain, muddy fields, and wildflowers along with the immeasurable weight of horror and silence…. Kim Trainor’s ‘Nothing is Lost’ is a world-reaching lament for debris in all its forms, and for memory itself, inviting us to enter into the world-shattering impact of massive slaughter. In the tradition of Akhmatova or Celan, she writes of a bloody gash in the world’s flesh larger and deeper than most of us can imagine.”
—Jury Citation, Malahat Review‘s Long Poem Prize, 2013
“If indeed it is true, as Elaine Scarry argues, that “Seeing is seeing of x, and the one who has made the ‘x’ has entered into the interior of the other person’s seeing, entered there in the object of perception,” then physical objects are never neutral, but always imbued with the perspective and emotion of the viewer. Any sense that this sounds a bit like Thomas Kuhn in his controversial 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Knowledge is entirely a propos. It is presumably not irrelevant that Trainor herself in the past worked for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and in a biomedical library: her own perceptions have been developed, in other words, in a cross-disciplinary environment. Trainor has said of the cover photo of the Beauty of Loulan that the image “presents her vulnerability, and I think by extension the vulnerability we all feel as humans who are in the end material bodies subject to time.” In this her first collection, Trainor has done a superb job of producing poetry that stretches language just thin enough to clothe the human form across millennia.”
—Karyotype by Kim Trainor: Review by Deborah C. Bowen, Journal of Canadian Poetry – The Poetry Review: Volume Thirty-One For the Year 2015
“Karyotype dwells on the Beauty of Loulan, one of the so-called Tarim mummies, and on “the attempt to extract intact DNA from the bone and tissue” (93) of ancient bodies. From this point of departure, Trainor lands upon conflicts and atrocities historical and contemporary, and engages poets of the past both distant and recent: Ovid, Callimachus, Sappho, Edward Thomas, Krzysztof Kamil Baczyński. The result is a meditation on loss, recovery, knowledge, and identity.”
—Nicholas Bradley, “Supreme Fictions and Strange Relations,” Canadian Literature, Spring 2017
Review of Karyotype: “Two poets not afraid to say the necessary things.” George Elliott Clarke. 8 November 2015 in Herald Arts & Life.
Open Book Recommends: 2015 Holiday Reading Guide Part Two
Open Book, December 15, 2015
“In Conversation with Kim Trainor.” Interview by Doyali Islam. CWILA: Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. 11 January 2017.
“The Dirty Dozen Interview, with Kim Trainor.” 13 October 2015. Open Book Toronto.
Like a Coat or a Bicycle or a Lens: Stefan Krecsy in Conversation with Kim Trainor, The Malahat Review, 2013