Posts: Reviews »
Daniela Elza. milk tooth bane bone. Lantzville, BC: Leaf Press, 2013.
~Reviewed by Al Rempel
Daniela Elza finds voice in both the gaps and the gravity of language in her second book, milk tooth bane bone, an interconnected series of poems that begins with this startling image:
The four titular nouns typify what I mean by gravity and gaps. Elza places these words side by side as effortlessly as setting four small stones in a row on the beach, yet they carry the weight of four silent moons around a planet, bodies that [...]
Jordan Abel. The Place of Scraps. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2013.
~ A Response to Jordan Abel’s The Place of Scraps by Margaret Christakos
It is easy to scrap the effort it takes to speak about the intensely complicated ethics of museum culture. Every object in a museum “comes” from a source place; most often the objects have been taken, and their home cultural context has been subsequently imperilled. The artifact accession process, subsumed in hyperattentive procedures of classification and conservation, is equally and ongoingly evidence of the subjugating relations of cultural dispossession.
At the [...]
Lola Lemire Tostevin. Singed Wings. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2013
~Reviewed by rob mclennan
Given that nearly a decade has passed since the appearance of her previous trade poetry collection, Site-Specific Poems (2004), there is much to celebrate for the fact that Toronto writer Lola Lemire Tostevin has released Singed Wings. Not that she was idle during that period—much of the past decade and a half of Tostevin’s writing career has equally focused on fiction, with the publication of her most recent novels being The Jasmine Man (2001) and The other sister (2008). For [...]
Stephen Scobie. At the limit of breath: Poems on the films of Jean-Luc Godard. Edmonton: U of Alberta P, 2013.
~Reviewed by Kimmy Beach
Stephen Scobie’s newest collection is a chronological, poetic study of the films of French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. And like the work of the man about whom Scobie writes, the book is pleasingly esoteric and sharply focussed.
Claustrophobia is a feature of Godard’s films, in which there is often an extended scene within a tight, domestic sphere. Even when the setting encompasses many rooms, the tension between the two people in the [...]
Carmelita McGrath. Escape Velocity. Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 2013.
~Reviewed by Zachariah Wells
Since 1997, there have been well over 2000 poetry collections published in Canada—counting only the books produced by accredited presses. If, like Carmelita McGrath, you released your last book in 1997 with a small press in Newfoundland, you should perhaps forgive the poetry-reading public if you’re not on its radar. In the interval between To the New World and the present, McGrath has not been silent, having published three books in other genres, a couple of poetry chapbooks and [...]
Vancy Kasper. Rebel Women. Toronto: Inanna, 2013.
~Reviewed by Katerina Fretwell
Immerse yourself in Rebel Women and experience both Toronto’s Rebellion of 1837 and the death of Vancy Kasper’s friend, poet Ayanna Black. The first section of Kasper’s book enlivens the Rebellion through historical, sensory and familial details so that readers live through the privation, persecution, grief and, above all, resilient courage that plants Kasper’s own matrilineal line within our hearts. Kasper’s second section, on the other hand, poignantly chronicles cancer’s fatal progression in her treasured friend. Rebel Women’s two parts do [...]
Katerina Fretwell. Class Acts, Toronto: Inanna, 2013
~Reviewed by Heather Spears
I’ve always preferred lyric poetry, and these poems are anything but. The stanzas are straightforward, the breaks seemingly arbitrary, the momentum dependent on strings of substantives cascading down a rough bed. There is hardly any imagery. The lines are abbreviated, the matter presented in chunks without articles, so condensed that reading them is like cutting your way through a hedge. It reminds me of Thomas Hardy—if he had an ear it was different to anyone else’s.
But despite my bias toward the [...]
David O’Meara. A Pretty Sight. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2013.
~Reviewed by Zachariah Wells
After my first read of David O’Meara’s new book—his fourth—I was vaguely disappointed. By the time I finished reading it for the second time, I had been quietly blown away. There could be many explanations for the discrepancy between my two reactions, but I think the crucial factor is the subtle, nuanced ways that O’Meara is playing the long game in A Pretty Sight.
The crudest index of that long game, and of O’Meara’s artistic ambition, is the page [...]
Jay MillAr. Timely Irreverence. Gibsons, BC: Nightwood Editions, 2013.
~Reviewed by rob mclennan
Somewhere in the world
there is a book.
It’s a book of poems
by somebody, somewhere.
This book sits on a shelf
filled with other books.
And in this book there is
a poem. I’m sure of it.
Given the title of his seventh trade poetry collection, Timely Irreverence, Toronto poet, editor and publisher Jay MillAr, who also sells books under Apollinaire’s Bookshop (“selling the books that no one wants to buy”) suggests that he writes as though no one is listening, and no one is reading. This is [...]
Rachel Lebowitz. Cottonopolis. Toronto: Pedlar Press, 2013.
~Reviewed by Emily McGiffin
Sprawling across four continents and multiple generations, Rachel Lebowitz’s Cottonopolis is a tour de force that unveils the beauty and atrocities of a world besieged by industrial revolution. Her rigorously researched and artfully crafted text nudges us into new understandings of the period—and reminds us of the darker sides of this foundation on which our own conflicted age is built.
Lebowitz succeeds in extracting gems from the ambitious sweep of time and geography that the narrative embraces, and her presentation of her subject [...]