serpentine loop (Anvil Press, 2016), was nominated for the 2017 Raymond Souster Award and named twice to The Walrus Magazine’s “Best of 2016” list. Nine months after its launch it had a second printing.
“Kraljii Gardiner’s use of figure skating visuals and terms is brilliant. The poems cut across multiple themes, skating across relationships, childhood memories and loss cutting deep, taking elaborate risks, with few soft landings. Beginning and ending on the ice, a poetic figure 8, we travel with her through the inside and outside edges of life.”- League of Canadian Poets
With too many great poems inside to quote, Gardiner’s lush, piercing collection is layered with climatological subtext and personal history, sure enough of its voice to thaw the coldest of hearts.” – Amber Tamblyn, BUST magazine
serpentine loop by Elee Kraljii Gardiner is precisely laid out in an easy to navigate motif of figure skating. It’s a powerful work that invites readers into the rainy climate of expensive Vancouver, capturing the loneliness we call solitude with truths like, “hear us tapping on the stucco.” In its empathy and compassion, the collection elevates readers to touch and grasp their own “defiant act of communion,” to weave magic until the desire for reciprocal, meaningful connection transcends isolation. Insightful and concise all at once. – Poetry Around BC
Kraljii Gardiner’s elegant body of work, poignant and decisive, is always precise: “Each pierce I aim with violence; I am not what he sees.” It is not just that the poems are clear inscriptions of the world, they render the world more clearly through their inscriptions – the surface of language, its tensions, is not transparent. And this first collection is a concentration of gender, of resilience, of urgency: “While one is treated like a hero for surviving, / another is damaged by survival. The river bleeds out. // We rarely test the milkwhite under the inch. / We are always in the act of falling through.”- Joan Naviyuk Kane, Hyperboreal
Serpentine Loop offers what every poetry collection aims for, but few deliver: a new vocabulary, a new way of describing the world. Through language informed by the terminology of figure skating, a world familiar to Elee Kraljii Gardiner, having grown up the daughter of a two-time Olympic medalist, we skate through pages of poems informed by the relationship of an athlete to ice, of a family of daughters who were on ice before they could walk, of an uncle lost to a drowning accident while skating. “Though the figure can take a moment to learn theoretically, it requires months or years to execute flawlessly,” writes Elee Kraljii Gardiner. The same may be said of poetry. Here we have a collection that sings the song of a childhood marked by life on the rink, by the cutting awareness of absence and privilege, by near-loss at the brink, by the tragic deaths of skaters to ice or air. Here we have poems that slice like a skate’s freshly sharpened blade, language that interrogates and disarms even as it loops seamlessly back to the lyric.- Rachel Rose, Marry &Burn
Kraljii Gardiner’s remarkably unique and well-conceived first collection takes up residence in you. serpentine loop’s treatment of ice – whether it’s lunge above or plunge below – is an indelible read. -Betsy Warland, Oscar of Between – A Memoir of Identity and Ideas
Only the most steady of poets will hone a central motif throughout the whole of a collection. To maintain such a motif is to be beholden to it. And what does it mean to be beholden to figure skating? It means precision and dexterity, and to inspire curious astonishment. Kraljii Gardiner gracefully succeeds in this poetic undertaking. serpentine loopis precise and dexterous in its language and affect. This book awes me. – Amber Dawn, author of Sodom Road Exit, Where the words and my body begins, How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir, Sub Rosa