Posts: Reviews »
Leanne Simpson. Islands of Decolonial Love: Stories and Songs. Winnipeg: ARP Books, 2013.
Leanne Simpson, Mississauga Nishnaabeg writer, editor, activist and scholar, is the author of two other story collections: Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back and The Gift is in the Making. Islands of Decolonial Love, like her other collections, situates story in the Nishnaabeg narrative tradition and worldview. Her narrators and characters negotiate complex contemporary settings in efforts to regain and repair relationships with one another and the natural world—relationships that are inherent to the Anishnabe worldview but are fractured [...]
Laurie D. Graham. Rove. Regina, SK: Hagios Press, 2013.
~Reviewed by Danielle Janess
Working at the knot of settler guilt and regional identity, Laurie Graham explores the creation and maintenance of inherited and local memory in Rove, her book-length long poem debut. Swiftly moving, self-assured, plainspoken, loose, funny, and pressing in its occupations, this is a book you read cover to cover in one sitting. And then you read it again. It’s hard to believe this is a first book, so whole, so wholly realized, this persistent, generations-long tracking of a single [...]
Allan Cooper and Harry Thurston. The Deer Yard. Kentville, NS: Gaspereau Press, 2013.
~Reviewed by Phoebe Wang
Given the immensity of Canada’s geography and the breadth of its poetic styles, it’s surprising that poetic correspondences, such as the one between Allan Cooper and Harry Thurston, don’t occur more frequently. The Deer Yard is a verse exchange that invokes the Wang River Sequence between 8th c. Chinese poets Wang Wei and his friend P’ei Ti. In each of the 20 poems, one poet provides the opening quatrain, while the other responds to an [...]
bpNichol. Organ Music. Windsor: ON: Black Moss Press, 2012.
~Reviewed by rob mclennan
There have been an enormous number of bpNichol titles produced over the past few years. Organ Music is one such volume, a longer version of Selected Organs (Black Moss Press, 1988) that contains one previously unpublished poem. It is constructed of eleven autobiographical sequences of prose poems composed throughout the 1980s on the subject of the body—“The Vagina,” “The Mouth,” “The Tonsils,” etc.—introduced by a brief statement from the late author.
Nichol’s prose embodies the loveliest ease, bouncing from point [...]
Tom Marshall. The Essential Tom Marshall. Selected by David Helwig and Michael Ondaatje. Erin Village, ON: Porcupine’s Quill, 2012.
~Reviewed by Andrew Johnson
Too often, our understanding of our literary history gets mixed up in debates about the canon, about who was great and who was merely good. In the process, we risk overlooking the fact that the greats didn’t spring out of nowhere; they needed literary friends, drinking buddies, sympathetic publishers, rivals, lovers…. They needed writers like Tom Marshall (1938–1993), the poet, novelist (Adele at the End of the Day), and [...]
Don Domanski. Bite Down Little Whisper. Brick Books: London, Ontario, 2013.
~Reviewed by Patricia Keeney
Effortlessly linking opposites, the poems in Don Domanski’s Bite Down Little Whisper share rare secrets of a larger existence that is usually blocked out by the diurnal noise and distraction through which most of us fret and hurry. Quietude lets the marvels in: “Quietude is called returning to life Lau Tze says” in “Ars Magica.”
Throughout this book, Domanski converses easily with haiku masters and other figures from ancient culture, all mavens of the intimately universal moment. He [...]
Anne Michaels. Correspondences. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2013.
~Reviewed by Emily McGiffin
With its plain and elegant construction that evades the orientating features of title, spine, back copy, Correspondences, Anne Michaels’ beautifully unconventional book-length poem, invites the reader into a pleated Möbius strip. “Forgive me, for beginning / at the end,” she writes in the midst of a poignant and evocative elegy whose very form echoes the continuous cycle of birth, life, and mourning.
The book-with-a-twist comes enveloped in a handsome grey sleeve. Sliding it off, one enters a realm of poetic text [...]
John Barton. For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin: Selected Poems. Gibsons, BC: Nightwood Editions, 2012.
~ Reviewed by JM Francheteau
With nine previous trade collections and a number of significant awards in his rear-view, John Barton is well within selected-poems territory. But as perhaps the first career retrospective by a Canadian openly gay male poet, For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin also charts the broad strokes of a 30-year sea change. In a recent discussion of emerging queer writer Ben Ladouceur, Barton notes that in his [...]
Barry Dempster. Invisible Dogs. London, ON: Brick Books, 2013.
~Reviewed by JM Francheteau
In “The Gulls,” the opening poem of Barry Dempster’s 2010 collection Blue Wherever, the protagonist’s idyllic musings are interrupted by the blast of a gull’s ragged caw, the sudden sense that nature
hates you without regard to good intentions
or poetic haze, whatever you call
yourself at your most vague
demanding to be left alone
with its hunger and duty.
It’s the type of jolt many of the economically comfortable, existentially discomfited speakers in Dempster’s new book Invisible Dogs could sorely use. Despite the persistent use [...]
Tanis Rideout. Arguments with the Lake. Hamilton, ON: Wolsak & Wynn, 2013.
~Reviewed by Nico Mara-McKay
Toronto-based writer Tanis Rideout’s acclaimed novel, Above All Things (McClelland and Stewart, 2012), was an account of George Mallory’s third and final attempt to conquer Mount Everest in 1924, and the wife he left behind, Ruth. The poems in Arguments with the Lake are likewise concerned with feats of strength and endurance, and the determination of real people. This time Rideout has compiled a fictionalized account of the rivalry between Marilyn Bell and Shirley Campbell. In [...]