Dopamine Blunder by Lori Cayer explores our emotional responses, particularly what it means to be happy and how we account for happiness. This is Cayer’s third collection of poetry, and while I haven’t read others, it is clear that Cayer views the world in complex and unusual ways. She looks at emotions with a practical and razor-sharp precision.
In “Acts of Confiscation,” the narrator commits new crimes to fill the emotional gaps left when the high from the previous ones wears off. “I commit new crimes to push/down the line the unbearable ones/” she says, noting “I’m going in the red direction/commit acts the size of ( ) always/some hole with fallen edges/a same-shaped desire waiting to fill it/” (pg. 23) Cayer uses each poem to illustrate a different kind of happiness, and if readers look closely, they will see the happiness tied to mental illness or instability in some cases. For instance, “Travelling without Moving” seems to illustrate an obsessive-compulsive who always works in a particular way — rearranges things to relax — and does these actions in a way that they are routine and unrecognizable as his/her own actions. “it relaxes me to sort and rearrange, I’m pretty sure it was me/in the cupboards and boxes,” (pg. 28)
Through the lenses of psychology and other sciences, Cayer looks at what it means to emote, to feel, and to strive to recreate those moments of happiness. And beneath these studies is a certain trepidation about the future and whether the happiness will run out or be lost. Dopamine Blunder by Lori Cayer is a complex collection that requires rumination and exploration beyond the page into the self and the world around us.
About the Poet:
Lori Cayer is the author of two volumes of poetry: Stealing Mercury and Attenuations of Force. She serves as co-editor of English poetry for CV2 and is co-founder of the Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry/Prix Lansdowne de poésie. Lori works by day as an editorial assistant for a scientific research journal.