Posts: Reviews »
Patrick Lane. Washita. Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2015.
~ Review by Anouk Henri
There’s a saying that death lies in the crease of your sleeve. Death is similarly woven into the pages of Patrick Lane’s latest book, Washita. From the opening poem where the dead arrive not with gilded fanfare but “like turnips pulled winter-burned and cold from the soil” to the final poem in which the narrator cuts a doe’s throat under an apple tree, tragedy and loss underpin this quietly devastating collection.
If all things must disappear into death and [...]
A.F. Moritz. Sequence. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2015.
~Review by Alison Goodwin
“It has to be living, / to learn the speech of the place…” Wallace Stevens observes in “Modern Poetry.” Sequence is written in the language of a desert, thirsting; its atmosphere is predominantly extreme and elemental. Words scratched in the sand are blown away in the next breath: “We set out because we were commanded / and yet of course we were told equally to stay home.” The days are hot enough to split stones “With a gunshot crack,” and [...]
Jalal Barzanji. Trying Again to Stop Time. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 2015.
~ Review by Kimmy Beach
Jalal Barzanji’s new and selected, Trying Again to Stop Time, veers from the usual way these collections are put together. While most retrospectives of this type begin at the outset of a poet’s career and work through to recent poems—or are collected without reference to the years and titles of the original texts—this book takes us backward.
We see the progression of the Kurdish-Canadian poet’s craft by watching the complexity of images grow and expand [...]
Patrick Friesen. A Short History of Crazy Bone. Salt Spring Island, BC: Mother Tongue Publishing, 2015.
~ Reviewed by Harold Rhenisch
A crazy bone might be crazy (mad) or cracked (crazed) or just a funny bone that feels weird when you hit it. In Friesen’s take, it’s all three, which is not either half so funny nor crazy as it looks. It’s mostly cracked open and broken with fine lines, a hollow bone you whistle through. Such bones are war whistles. Men blow in them. Women sing.
Friesen’s blowing is a long poem, a [...]
Deanna Young. House Dreams. London, ON: Brick Books, 2014
~ Reviewed by Al Rempel
Death brushes the windows of our lives with wings of fear and anxiety, darkness and dreams, memories and old hurts. Deanna Young, in her third collection of poetry, House Dreams, makes us hear the percussive beat of each wing, see its feather, feel its power. In her opening poem, “Beautiful, Astounding, Wondrous,” she suspends us on a “short-haul domestic flight” that runs into a storm.
is religious, the hand of fate poised
to swipe or soothe — not one of [...]
Cassidy McFadzean. Hacker Packer. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2015.
~ Robin Richardson
The way I see it there is no such thing as fixed identity. We are not quantifiable, but are works-in-progress for as long as we exist. A collection of poems similarly is not a whole in itself. It is a marker on the progression of its author and of the artistic climate at large. To read Cassidy McFadzean’s debut collection is to peer into the processes of a gifted poet as she gathers her forces.
The poems in Hacker Packer are [...]
Jamie Sharpe. Cut-Up Apologetic. Toronto: ECW Press, 2015
~ Reviewed by rob mclennan
The title of Whitehorse poet Jamie Sharpe’s second collection of short, sharp narratives, Cut-Up Apologetic (ECW Press), references the cut-up method of composition utilized by a number of artists, from the Dadaists to William Burroughs, Ted Berrigan and David Bowie. Wringing out his own series of lyric apologies, explorations, explanations and exasperations, the result of Sharpe’s methods suggest more narrative than arbitrary slice, yet this collection of lyric collage attempts to deliberately compound meanings, ideas and concepts not usually [...]
C.R. Avery. Some Birds Walk For The Hell Of It. Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2014.
~ Reviewed by Lori Garrison
Crude, over-sexed and under-groomed, yet charming in its eccentricity, C.R. Avery’s latest book, Some Birds Walk For the Hell Of It, is the quirky uncle of poetry collections. Avery’s gritty, in-your-face language is a refreshing detour from more traditional poetic voices. Trees, lakes, loons and other icons of “Canadiana” are happily absent, replaced by posh bakeries in Orillia (“Lunch Pick-up Poem”), Glenn Gould’s neurosis (“Memo”) and “a small tub in Strathcona,” (“Studio Gangster & [...]
Roland Prevost, Singular Plurals. Ottawa: Chaudiere, 2014
~Reviewed by Nina Jane Drystek
The poems in Roland Prevost’s first full-length collection explore a contemporary experience of alienation. This theme is exemplified in the title of the collection, Singular Plurals, and through recurrent scenes where the speaker experiences a sense of isolation in a public space. The speaker is capable of recognising and acknowledging others but only as a backdrop to their life.
In poems such as “Who Later Cannot” individuals become icons: “Joe drink coffee / Kev check time / Ella bite sandwich / Kristin [...]
Rachel Zolf. Janey’s Arcadia. Toronto: Coach House, 2014.
~reviewed by Shane Rhodes
Although the cover of Janey’s Arcadia casts a calm, blond gaze over a blue and gold prairie landscape (the cover image is from a 1930 Canadian immigration pamphlet), the book is anything but Arcadian. Beneath this surface of seeming rural contentment, Zolf’s book writhes with remembering, dismembering and membering.
As with many projects of memory, found material forms the poetic base. With constantly shifting dictions and tone within any one poem, it is clear that Zolf mashes together many found texts [...]