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Teacher’s Pets by Crystal Hurdle

Source: Tightrope Books
Paperback, 150 pgs.
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Teacher’s Pets by Crystal Hurdle is ripe with innuendo, secrets, and more. Readers will venture into the wilderness with a class training group, as their instructor Cam teaches them about nature and all of its wonders. Through the interplay of free verse, overheard conversations between students and between teachers, as well as classroom assignments, Hurdle creates an absorbing setting in which the laws of the outdoors are internalized and the students learn to engage with the theory of evolution — “survival of the fittest.”

From "Robert Sedaris" (pg. 47)

He says some trees' taproots
probe and probe,
seek out the heat at the centre of the earth.

Man, I had no idea.
It's as if all my life I was underground
and have just now poked through the surface.

Robert Sedaris is a character full of foreshadowing, and he alludes to many events to come throughout the collection, but his lines are just subtle enough that they read like discussions of nature. In “Robert Sedaris” (pg. 83), “You hear the first little pop/and then so many that individuals can’t be heard,//they are all one./It blows up into something bigger/than you thought possible,/” Working on two levels, Hurdle has crafted a complex collection with multiple moving parts within and around it. In many ways, these little solar systems are orbiting one another and informing a larger sense of action and purpose.

Teacher’s Pets by Crystal Hurdle deals with some heavy issues and lines that should never be crossed — though they often are. These poems are by turns sad and will have readers shaking their heads at naive children, as well as shaking a fist at adults who should know better.

About the Poet:

Crystal Hurdle teaches English and creative writing at Capilano University in North Vancouver. She is the author of the poetry collection After Ted & Sylvia and her poetry and prose has been published in many journals, including Bogg, Canadian Literature, the Dalhousie Review, Event, Fireweed, and the Literary Review of Canada.