Posts: Reviews »
Garth Martens. Prologue to the Age of Consequence. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2014.
~ Reviewed by Zachariah Wells
As a reader for CBC’s 2011 poetry competition, I judged 286 anonymous entries. My second– and third-highest picks were, it turned out, sequences submitted by Garth Martens, both of which appear in his GG-shortlisted 2014 debut. The work stood out, both because of subject matter (commercial construction and the toxically masculine culture of the job-site) and because of Martens’ style: densely percussive, displaying a range of registers and a fiction-writer’s penchant for voice, [...]
Kayla Czaga. For Your Safety Please Hold On. Gibson, BC: Nightwood Editions, 2014.
~Reviewed by Phoebe Wang
There are archetypal elements to Czaga’s poems about family, though they are caught up in particular circumstances: her mother’s illness, her father’s relocation from Hungary, her childhood in a remote northern B.C. town. Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins become our own catalogue of typical specimens, even though there may be nothing stereotypical about them. Czaga’s debut focuses on how these relationships recur, setting up patterns for our later lives. In “Biography of My Father,” [...]
Andrea MacPherson. Ellipses. Winnipeg: Signature Editions, 2014
~ Reviewed by Carole Mertz
Andrea MacPherson divides Ellipses, her collection of free verse and prose poems, into four sections. The first two are dedicated to her grandmothers. The poems are reinventions of these women, rather than actual recollections. However, the reader gains clear profiles: the maternal grandmother who practiced elocution as a young adult, spoke with a brogue and read tea leaves, and the paternal grandmother who, nearly orphaned, dwelled in a tuberculosis sanatorium and survived to raise three sons.
In “Saskatoon Sanatorium, 1940,” the poet [...]
Brian Bartlett. Ringing Here and There. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2014
~ Reviewed by Barbara Myers
Corresponding to the astrological calendar, Ringing Here and There begins in spring with April (perhaps from aperire, the Latin “to open” as in buds, as in beginnings) and continues with the satisfactions of phenology, charting the changes in plants and wildlife as season follows season. Subtitled “A Nature Calendar,” and inspired by Thoreau and other diarists, poet Brian Bartlett’s new prose offering of 366 entries (including one for the extra day in a leap year) [...]
Sarah Lang. For Tamara. Toronto: House of Anansi, 2014.
~ Reviewed by Emily McGiffin
In the decade following the end of the world, a mother writes a letter to her daughter. An event has occurred—a bright flash, a mushroom cloud—and the world we know has become a poignant memory. In this arduous and dangerous new existence, life is precarious and the letter is urgent, wistful, keenly human. In a long poem that takes its place in a growing corpus of post-apocalyptic literature, Lang asks who we might become at the moment of [...]
Jane Munro. Blue Sonoma. London, ON: Brick Books, 2014.
~Reviewed by Marilyn Irwin
Sometimes a book needs no introduction. And sometimes a reader fully understands why the writer couldn’t resist. Jane Munro’s newest collection opens with an epigraph that fittingly sets the tone for Blue Sonoma: “When fullness is taken from fullness, / Fullness still remains.” This is an “Invocation to the Isha Upanishad”—which is apt, considering Munro’s affinity for yogic practice. More importantly, the epigraph sets the tone for the delicate and defiant pieces Munro proffers in this volume, most of [...]
Tom Wayman. Winter’s Skin. Fernie, BC: Oolichan, 2013.
~Reviewed by Heather Spears
In his Author’s Note to Winter’s Skin Tom Wayman asserts that reading Neruda in translation triggers him, causing “idea after idea to surface in that part of my consciousness where a poem insists it be written.” Yet this experience is every poet’s, surely — the act of writing poetry comes from reading it rather than from nature or life, and Tom is maybe the first to describe this accurately: the “surfacing,” the “insistence.”
He calls his poems, like Neruda’s, elegiac, and [...]
Sina Queyras. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2014.
~Reviewed by Stephen Brockwell
Sina Queyra’s MxT is an extended exploration of the artifice of grieving. Visceral, intellectual, distanced, irreverent, at times transgressively funny, MxT is a profoundly intimate, bold, and inventive exploration of the forms and language appropriate for grieving or, perhaps more appropriately, the broader notion of lamentation.
The nine parts of MxT are demarcated by repurposed circuit diagrams and technical drawings that illustrate the mechanisms of grief. Most of these concrete-like intermezzos use electrical analogies for the processing of grief. There are no [...]
Arc Poetry Magazine will soon introduce a short section of chapbook reviews.
Scheduled to begin this summer, the reviews will focus on recent Canadian work.
They may be detailed discussions of a single chapbook or may be omnibus reviews. They may consider the work of a particular publisher or may take a thematic approach. We expect them to be different each time, and have arranged for a different reviewer for each issue. The first two will be Pearl Pirie and Matt Hader.
Please send us review copies of your chapbooks to be considered for [...]
Elizabeth Greene. Understories. Toronto: Inanna, 2014.
~ Reviewed by Tiffany Moniz
In this four-part collection, Greene cleverly resurfaces stories and memories to explore loss, healing and the preservation of legacies through the power of the poetic form. In “One Perfect Afternoon,” Greene invites us to experience a momentous but unsuccessful romance by asking us to imagine a love that is tangible but unreachable at the same time. Just as one poem alludes to a cosmic romance (“You took my hand. / Energies of the universe / flowed over us, / wind blew [...]