Winner, 2017 ReLit Award
Katherine Leyton's fresh and vibrant debut collection takes on the sexual politics of the twenty-first century, boldly holding up a mirror to the male gaze and interrogating the nature of images and illusions.
Confronting the forces of mass communication — whether television, movies, or the Internet — Leyton explores the subtle effects of the media on our perceptions and interactions, including the pain of alienation and the threat of violence simmering just below the surface.
And yet, for all its unflinching and raw lyricism, the poetry of All the Gold Hurts My Mouth is warm and searching, full of humour and hope. Engaging her readers with lush vocabulary and spare, tightly controlled forms, Leyton's poems become a rich quest for identity, authenticity, and nature uncorrupted. Reaching gloriously from isolation and pain to connection with love, Leyton channels the wit of feminists past to create a manifesto for our time, an affirmation of what might be possible.
Leyton's debut poetry collection is at times angry, often deeply sexual, and always captivating. It's also an incredibly personal collection: unabashedly feminist, inquisitive and self-interrogating, and in many ways transgressive. That, too, is tangled up in eroticism. The speaker's histories and commentaries are laid bare in plain and staggeringly beautiful free verse, as well as more formal styles. Her voice is at once conversational and conspiratorial; the reader is invited in to observe memories and other less tangible ghosts as they collide on the page in kaleidoscopic prose that's firework-bright and brilliant. Her subjects are often deceptively simple yet intricately, expansively layered, as in "The First Time with Pay-Per-View": "Her body was an ostentatious palace/ where he broke all the furniture." Leyton's subject matter creates a compelling basis for the work, and her voice, audacity, and dexterity as a poet underscore the book's decidedly impressive momentum. This is a book that reads quickly and pulls no punches. Though the collection is slight, it feels weighty. Leyton's writing speaks in soft whispers but hits like a sledgehammer.