Anatomy of an Injury


poems by Myna Wallin

106 Pages
May 24, 2018

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Bringing together the themes of death, of gender and sexuality, the poet creates a speaker whose language and experience, linked from poem to poem, reflects the true complexity of a woman’s perspective. Death is a prevalent theme; anxiety, fear and paranoia simmer throughout the poems. Regret, too, is a recurrent theme, as previous experience defines us even by its absence. The societal construct of womanhood, questions of aging, and female stereotypes are opportunities for an analysis of women’s roles and the speaker’s need to subvert modern ideals of femininity and sexuality. The poems often employ satire or self-parody and wry humour to suggest that a woman’s understanding of her options in the twenty-first century, in light of the many waves of feminism, is always in flux and always challenging.

“With her brilliantly chosen title, Anatomy of an Injury, Myna Wallin proceeds to examine a series of agonizing loves: Love for a mother lost at a young age to cancer, then, love for a lifetime of amours “because love and longing for it, is the only thing/ I’m really good at.” In her disarming candor, she is a Canadian Anne Sexton, forthright, glamourous, savvy—and innocent. A feminist in a “sparkly dress,” Wallin understands that vanity, too, has its desperate, daily discipline, even when “I’ve Reached the Age of I Don’t Care.” But very happily someone the poet would “do anything to keep around” arrives by the end of this winsome book.”

—Molly Peacock, author of The Analyst and The Paper Garden

“Myna Wallin investigates, without fear, “this duplicity of meaning, of motive, of self” in poems that dive into the painful or awkward past and a youthful, continuous lust for men and clothes and life. Along the way, she bears in mind the kitsch of the high backed bondage chair or foot-damaging pair of Louboutins, while defiantly declaring she will curl up and sleep amongst the beige and brown spotted bodies of her domesticated family of bobcats. Wallin’s arch style somehow convinces us we’ll always yearn for love and heartbreak.”

—Nyla Matuk, author of Stranger

“Effervescently centering each poem’s surface is the universal solvent, love, in all its grand, minute, nebulous, recollected and misunderstood permutations. These deeply introspective, poignant, reflective, compelling, yet simultaneously life-affirming and humorous poems dance “across a trellis/ with such bravado, bold, ornate,/ luxurious to the touch/ their feet in the shade, their faces in the sun.”

—Michael Fraser, author of To Greet Yourself Arriving

Myna Wallin is an author and editor living in Toronto. She is the author of a novel, Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar (2010) and a volume of poetry, A Thousand Profane Pieces (2006). Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Contemporary Verse 2, Existere, Descant, Literary Review of Canada, Matrix, Rampike, 50+ Poems about Gordon Lightfoot, and Where the Nights are Twice as Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets.

Reclining Woman in Polka Dot Dress, 2014

Twelve artists’ twelve versions of you.
You are a hot devil-red creature with a worried brow
sinuous, impressionistic, Victorian-doll faced.
You are the reclining woman on canvas.

Silk fabric rising above naked knees,
décolletage dipping. Little else to suggest immodesty.
If you were Colette or Anais Nin
you’d have worn less. Marilyn—nothing but her Channel No. 5.

He glides from student to student,
Yes, good, go warm or cool—find the balance,
  find a detail of interest, blow that up.
They scrutinize you with great concentration.

Your back begins to ache, but you keep your gaze
focussed ahead, on the middle distance
as though you were a dancer en pointe
holding her balance/ her composure/her breath—
one giddy pirouette.

1 review for Anatomy of an Injury

  1. inannaadmin

    Anatomy of an Injury by Myna Wallin
    reviewed by Michael Dennis, Today’s Book of Poetry – February 4, 2019

    Today’s book of poetry isn’t exactly sure what a chanteuse is but we know we want to call Anatomy of an Injury a Holly Golightly dirge and the voice of Myna Wallin something both sexy and dangerous. Wallin is lamenting and celebrating some of the same things at the same time and in context it makes perfect sense. Or: romantic life expectations rarely meet up with our real life propositions and the love life of our imagination is endlessly superior to our own life between the sheets.

    Myna Wallin knows all the delicate disorder of the modern Bo-Bo Dance. Her poems, while entirely aware of the slings and sorrows of romantic love, precipitously both long for and scorn Cupid’s attempts at breaking our tough modern skin with his pathetic arrows.

    Anatomy of an Injury

    Pain, volatile and dangerous like faulty wiring.
    Pain, turning on and off, at unexpected intervals,
    like broken Christmas lights.
    Pain, a rodent’s teeth chewing
    on my knee—its favourite treat.
    Like quick-hardening cement poured
    into my legs.
    Pain, a belligerent visitor who won’t leave,
    drunk on Naproxen, Codeine, and Celebrex.
    Pain streaking down in gullies,
    obscuring a view of anything outside.

    Pain that snakes its way
    to the heart, weary and intolerant.
    Pain as self-flagellation, as penance, as

    Why the knee—
    what does the knee represent?

    I love you, said on bent knee, by a fiance
    in a moment’s sublime supplication;
    a falling to the knees in wonderment
    in the presence of a celestial being,
    an extra-terrestrial. Kneeling in worship.

    I can’t bend or straighten my leg fully,
    cut off at the shins, like a swift kick
    life has given me, a stern admonishment
    for being unwilling
    to yield to love,
    or the failure to kneel in prayer.

    No deference, no stooping
    to bow or clean; knees are for lending
    service, for placing oneself underneath
    something or someone, for picking
    up pennies, touching the vestments
    of the Pope—or for doggy style sex.

    There can be no relinquishing of
    power without knees, to either deity
    or man. As woman, lacking this compliance,
    I’m an aberration.

    Stiff and leaning on a cane,
    I resemble an old crone. Limping
    and twisted, I cast terrible spells.


    Okay, weird digression. Myna Wallin has a cat poem in this collection that gave me the heebie jeebies something fierce, right down to my memory of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” Wallin walked right into the middle of one of my reoccurring nightmares and brought a poem out of it. What dark magic is this?

    Myna Wallin loves love, loves amour and loves a good laugh. These honest feeling, honest sounding poems are just good enough that they may be honest too. Anatomy of an Injury knows that there are many paths to happiness, insight, love and contentment and that some of them pass through the funny bone first.

    Fear of the Zombie Ex-Girlfriend

    Fear the zombie ex-girlfriend,
    her guts infested with jealousy.
    If she had a conscious thought—
    besides brains, human flesh, hungry now
    it would be, if I can’t have you, I’ll eat you.

    Instead she’d say, “We should go have coffee,
    no reason we can’t be friends,”
    And she’d wink demurely, like she used to,
    with her undead eyes.

    She wants to eat parts of you right in front of me,
    digesting you like some ungodly sacrament:
    your body and her body entwined,
    roaming the earth together,
    ravenous together.

    But she hasn’t got a thought in her hideous
    drooling mouth, her gaping, half-broken jaw.
    Why can’t you see that?
    She’d just eat her way through you
    as if you were chocolate
    unless someone stops her:
    someone’s got to stop her!

    I’d better make a pre-emptive strike
    and make it a good one.
    Piano-wire right through her scrawny neck—
    Otherwise she’s liable to ruin everything.
    And you, poor thing, won’t see it coming.


    Another big snow in Ottawa this past weekend. Our morning read was conducted in a room strewn with heavy coats, a small flock of gloves and mittens and scarves hanging over all the heating grates like colourful sleeping crows. Drying mittens have a certain odour and it isn’t erotic, just saying. The read itself was crisp and clean as spring water. Our new intern, Sally Ann, led the charge with her new-to-the-office enthusiasm. The others were suitably impressed by Sally Ann’s moxie and poetry smarts and the solid as you need them to be poems of Myna Wallin. The reading was warm enough to heat the room.

    Anatomy of an Injury is immediate. Walling hasn’t put a single thing between her so keen eye and honed voice, there are no filters and we can be grateful. There are poems about loss and poems about pain. And Ex-girlfriend Zombies. Bless Wallin’s cotton socks.

    Myna Wallin knows all about the pain we dump on one another, share willingly, or not. But this heart, this poet, is bigger than just pain, Wallin is buoyed by hope. As fragile, futile and as far out of reach as hope may be.

    Now Serving Date #2,775

    Blue agate eyes skimmering surfaces,
    light on her. After his set:
    Can I buy you a drink?
    In his stuff tuxedo, six-foot broad-shouldered,
    He’s got the look of a bridegroom.
    Non-verbal, offstage
    He’s at a loss.

    Marlboro lit, right hand tapping on the bar, rising,
    falling. Dialogue—a foreign art,
    halting, lurching.

    Tell me about your gig in New York.
    One-word answers.

    Questions, a social reflex. When responses come
    he’s lost, smoke rings trailing pianissimo,
    eyeing his options as women congregate,
    oozing pheromones.

    Drinks like a man in a hurry
    to lose consciousness.
    He won’t be coaxed out of hiding, won’t meet her
    halfway. If his arms weren’t so lean, tapered—arms
    that gallop across vibes, smash cymbals.

    If his eyes weren’t jaded so blue, would she need
    to laugh so musically, smile so widely? then off to a smoky
    after-hours jazz joint. Over drinks
    meets his saxophonist buddy
    who talks enough for three.

    Months later:
    The same sax player wonders,
    Are you still together?
    She laughs, embarrassed,
    Haven’t seen him since.
    Without missing a beat he asks,
    Can I buy you a drink?


    Any poet who writes love poems to both Irving “King of the Canadian Poetry Hill for a good long while” Layton and Gordon “Bob Dylan is a fan of his work” Lightfoot, is so thoroughly Canadian that Today’s book of poetry has an instant craving for pancakes with butter and maple syrup.

    Today’s book of poetry certainly wants more of Myna Wallin.

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