THE SADDEST PLACE ON EARTH
DC Books (2012)
Edited by Jason Camlot
Cover art and drawings by David Poolman.
When Donald Rumsfeld briefed his press secretary on how to deal with the media, he said: 'Begin with an illogical premise and proceed perfectly logically to an illogical conclusion…They [the media] do it all the time.' Kathryn Mockler's new collection of poems applies Rumsfeld's advice to powerful poetic ends. Deeply interested in American politics and the absurdity of our mediated relation to the political sphere, Kathryn Mockler's beautiful and entertaining narrative poems in The Saddest Place on Earth follow absurd premises to their most logical conclusions. . Here, God appears on Oprah, Hurt Feelings and Anger rent a cottage together on Lake Huron for a week in August, and the saddest place on earth is discovered in a Chinese restaurant at the end of a stripmall. Kathryn Mockler's approach to language and the world results in an extremely engaging, moving and often hilarious poetics of deep disorientation.
Stephen Osborne, Geist, 89, Summer 2013
Another book worthy of inclusion in one or more of James Pollock's "families" of worthy poems and poets is Kathryn Mockler's collection The Saddest Place on Earth (DC Books,) whose work is entirely free of the gratuitous image-making, the facile metaphors that so many young (and not so young) poets substitute for good writing; here we are in the presence of subjects and predicates wielded bravely in the plain language of telling, as inherited, absorbed, reflected in the "family of work" that includes, among others, Lydia Davis, J. Robert Lennon, and Richard Brautigan. Mockler's first lines set worlds into motion...
Jonathan Ball, The Winnipeg Free Press, May 25, 2013
POETRY: Bold meditation on murder mixes banal, bizarre
TORONTO'S Kathryn Mockler begins The Saddest Place on Earth (DC, 70 pages, $18) with some sage advice: "It is not a good idea to be in the same room as / someone who is just about to murder you."
Thus begins a meditation on murder that oscillates between thoughts banal and bizarre. Mockler tends towards the sardonic.
Many poems read like micro-fictions or dialogues: "This weekend I'm going to rock out, he said. / Good for you, I said. I'm planning to kill myself."
The collection's highlight, Serial Killers, presents a science-fictional, Hollywood high-concept premise as its kick-off: "Humanity is stopped in its tracks when / everyone is sterilized to eliminate the human / race. Basically it's mass suicide."
"Wow that's a good idea," says Mockler's speaker, surprising both herself and us. "So in this scenario getting pregnant is the / worst thing you could do for mankind. // Yes, it's worse than serial killers." Mockler's bold, brilliant poems brim with shock and surprise.
Rayanne Doucet, Canadian Poetries, June 11, 2013
There are so many twists and turns in these poems that you’ll find yourself laughing at the absurdity of it all before realizing the author has just given you a face plant full of social and political commentary.
Mockler’s skill with language and narrative beat lends itself well to these unapologetic poems. At times I found myself groaning out loud, or shaking my head to get a grip on what I had just read. There is heart and terrific depth in this work. Read More
Caitlynn Cummings, This Magazine, Spring 2013
Mockler's masterful inversions at the end of "Murder," "Serial Killers," and "Ghost" recast the poems and add multiple layers of resonance, while "Oprah" and "Environmentalism" are engaging due to sheer cleverness.
Kane Faucher, Western News, February 28, 2012
One of the more amusing practices in philosophy is the use of reductio ad absurdum which involves testing a proposition by conjuring up the most absurd or untenable situation to test the proposition’s logical validity. Kathryn Mockler, an instructor in Western’s Program in Writing, Rhetoric and Professional Communication, freely employs this practice in poetic form, producing a series of risible poems and prose fragments, some of them reminiscent of pataphysics (most notably in the personification of Hurt Feelings and Anger sharing a cottage), God appears on Oprah, and Buddha signs up for Weight Watchers.
Stylistically, there are some consistent features that bridge Mockler’s previous literary offering, Onion Man, where she masterfully balances sneering ironic humour with the accent notes of reflective sadness. The Saddest Place on Earth, once again, demonstrates Mockler is Western’s literary gem, producing a pithy volume that is touching, playful, and unpretentiously saturated with brilliant insight.