Cloudy With a Fire in the Basement

shortlisted for canada's relit award


Most things have no reason.

Why you leave a lover or join another, why you choose to stay where you live; these questions you may have no answer for. Or the answers change. Cloudy with a Fire in the Basement explores living from an awareness that has no reference points, that carries the risk of making no sense, of losing others who may require it, of understanding that there's no safety. The poems go toward these notions, even if the writer is fleeing.

Within Bloom's new poems exists an attempt toward freedom that demands looking at whatever the psyche revolts against or craves. By hawking an eye on human experience that has previously been rejected or desired--cruelty, love, grief, a good fitting pair of jeans, God—the poems investigate stuck places and too-tight habits. They skitter and rest, and lie down in the chaos and the quiet, in the overwhelming, tragic, sequinned world; and occasionally they alight in reality.

The poems feel timeless and yet utterly contemporary. There are occasional references to the modern world – PINs, passwords, a radiator, Keith Haring, Tim Horton’s, Scrabble and Yoko Ono – but the poems are so much larger. While they are precisely crafted works about loss and fear, risk and relief, and about getting what you want, they are above all compassionate, comforting, and yes, godamnit, useful.
— Shawna Lemay, Canadian Poetries