Otter by Ben Ladouceur
From the trenches of Verdun to gay bars to Parisian hotel rooms, Otter shares spaces with men.
His body, like yours, would lie
mute as a plum
until a vigilant limb came
to a decision. As you might have guessed
I’ve come to one myself.
Moving from the absurdity of the First World War to the chaos of today’s cities, where men share beds, bottles of ouzo and shade from willow trees, these poems ask questions: If your lover speaks in his sleep, how do you know ‘you’ is you? What good is it to decorate a headstone? What if you think of the perfect comeback to a six-year-old argument? Otter fails, with style, to ﬁnd answers.
‘Formally impeccable and richly imagined, Ben Ladouceur’s poems track the awe of a mind as it engages with epiphanal moments, both private and historical. His language is filtered through an intelligence that’s queer and graceful, always in search of the singular phrase and a music that startles with its precision. As each poem unfurls, keen insight gives way to the wonder of words. Otter is a magnificent debut.’
— Eduardo C. Corral, author of Slow Lightning, winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize
‘Ladouceur writes with an awareness of queer history, documenting it faithfully, but with his own twist … This is poetry motivated by an honest wit.’
— John Barton, Arc Poetry Magazine