In case you’ve been out of touch with the independent book scene in Toronto, last March, Parkdale gave us a new little gem of a bookstore. Permanent Sleep Bookshop now occupies a cozy corner of Capital Espresso (1349 Queen St. W) where the recent publications of Permanent Sleep Press are on sale among others.
Though I had never heard of Permanent Sleep Press prior to my visit, I naturally gravitated towards their raw yet hearty publications with minimalist design. I had not read a full-length poetry collection in a while, so I picked Dusty Neal’s Rain Songs off the shelves and spent the next few days with it. As luck would have it, I got trapped inside a pub because of the apocalyptic downpour, so I took the rainfall as a sign and picked up the book to spend time with what Dusty Neal describes as “The Rainy days of the mind”.
The poems vary in length, style and content, from minimalistic and anti-poetic to longer, metered verses, but as a collection it held my attention from start to finish. Having recently disposed of the majority of my possessions, a couple lines struck me harder than the rest:
“With the possessions you own
Do you know yourself more or less?”
It is in our Rainy Days that our possessions grow eyes, stare back at us begrudgingly, measuring our self-worth, Fleeting Rain that forces us to look inside for once, to realize how Canadian Rain is a metaphor for fleeting summers that flash by just to leave us in the cold arms of winter once again.
“Each warm week
Burns by quicker”
As the author mentions in the closing page of the book itself, we long for structure. The book weaves stories of Urban chaos, of masochism, death and boredom to the lonely hours of yearning for structure in the face of once-loved ones.
“The world was supposed to end in the year 2000
Jaded teens, 17 years old, we scoffed and welcomed it
But we knew it couldn’t possibly be reality
Our generation wasn’t lucky enough to watch the world burn”
We feel impotent faced with our inadequacies, faced with the profound sadness that comes with the acceptance of impermanence.
“do you still fail to see
All that is lost despite what you gain?”
We struggle with our daily lives, fitting into neat little boxes, “modeling ourselves into organized, well-wrapped presents” and in the process of doing so, we lose sight of all that was once precious.
This book made me nostalgic towards all that was once precious to me, it made me rethink my current relationship with the world around me, made me dig into the boredom of my day-to-day life for precious moments that I’ll one day yearn for. It’s a book with a lot of heart and sincerity, a no-bullshit approach to Canadian life that’ll tug at your heart strings with finesse and brevity.
When I finish the book, the downpour has ceased outside. I take my leave and spend the day ruminating, letting Dusty Neal’s Rain Songsplay over and over in my mind. – Khashayar Mohammadi