Proof explores the worlds of entomology, memory and mathematics. What can be proven with empirical evidence and what demands reason. The poems examine the means of observation from the entomologist to the grief stricken mathematician. From break-ups to Dung Beetles, these poems move from microscope to recollection and from the abstract math proof to the visceral sting of the wasp's barbed quill.
Larissa Andrusyshyn's first book Mammoth (DC Books 2010) was shortlisted for the QWF First Book Prize and the Kobzar Literary Award. Her poems have been shortlisted for Arc Magazine's Poem of the Year and the Malahat Review's Open Season Award. She works with a local nonprofit to offer creative writing workshops to at-risk youth. She lives, writes and is planning her zombie apocalypse survival strategy in Montreal.
“One poem in Proof, Dung Beetle, was inspired by going down a Wikipedia wormhole that led to a David Attenborough-narrated documentary clip on YouTube. ‘Dung beetles, I learned, navigate by using the Milky Way,’ she said. ‘I thought “That’s just too beautiful, too perfect, not to use. These irresistible little stargazers.” These animals are way more complex than we give them credit for, and that’s true of all animals, including people. The portraits of insects in the book are really like portraits of people.’” — from “Zombies, bugs and rugby: a poet finds solace in unusual places”, Ian McGillis, The Montreal Gazette, March 14, 2015 “Andrusyshyn’s audacity in using the ‘Ew!’ factor in a set of poems about insects is impressive. Literature has never included poems about ‘Sex Lives of Leopard Slugs’ or ‘The Diving Bell Spider.’ John Donne, who brought scientific imagery into his poetry, would be impressed. One of her best poems, ‘The Genus Nabokovia,’ uses facts about the butterfly discovered by and named for Vladimir Nabokov as a means of describing his work and his relationship with his muse/wife, Vera. It’s a shame he isn’t alive to read it, especially the daring line about the butterfly having ‘photoreceptors in its appendage— / it sees with its genitalia.’ The fondness for declarative sentences in this book, combined with the short lines, gives it a brisk, tonic quality. The title poem lists various meanings of ‘proof,’ though she does not include the term as used in the field of numismatics to denote coins of exceptional quality struck for collectors. Her work is a proof copy in this sense: polished to a shine.” — Bert Almon, MRB, Spring 2015 “Larissa Andrusyshyn’s book Proof is a book about the clash of order with disorder, about impossible cause and inevitable effect, about incomplete equations and balance and variables, as well as the functions that these systems of understanding have in the world and the poetic and scientific functions that they leave unfulfilled. Proof is also a book that asks the reader to loop back to its original premise, even though that premise is not written out explicitly until the end of the book. It lurks, though, and acquires increased significance by its absence, like the proof you need but can’t find: ‘the noose around the mathematician’s neck / is what he knows but cannot demonstrate,’ as Andrusyshyn puts it in ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem.’ And here’s the crux of it, the unprovable and illogical but extra-tantalizing proposition: if love is what makes sense out of life’s chaos, how then is love the greatest chaotic force? And what can we do with this most unbalanced of hypotheses?” — Tanis Macdonald, The Rusty Toque, June 2016 “These poems are sad and tender like the end of summer and sneaky like that last hidden spider who has moved to an indoor universe. Larissa Andrusyshyn is a less-is-more poet and has clearly found her stride. These poems are solid and ring strong with her confident voice.” — Michael Dennis, Today's Book of Poetry, October 2015
'Andrusyshyns audacity in using the Ew! factor in a set of poems about insects is impressive. Literature has never included poems about Sex Lives of Leopard Slugs or The Diving Bell Spider. John Donne, who brought scientific imagery into his poetry, would be impressed. One of her best poems, The Genus Nabokovia, uses facts about the butterfly discovered by and named for Vladimir Nabokov as a means of describing his work and his relationship with his muse/wife, Vera. Its a shame he isnt alive to read it, especially the daring line about the butterfly having photoreceptors in its appendage / it sees with its genitalia. The fondness for declarative sentences in this book, combined with the short lines, gives it a brisk, tonic quality. The titlepoem lists various meanings of proof, though she does not include the term as used in the field of numismatics to denote coins of exceptional quality struck for collectors. Her work is a proof copy in this sense: polished to a shine.' -- Bert Almon, MRB, Spring 2015