Posts: Reviews »
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 [...]
Kerry-Lee Powell. Inheritance. Windsor, ON: Biblioasis, 2014.
~reviewed by Phoebe Wang
Diving into the atmosphere of Kerry-Lee Powell’s fierce debut, Inheritance, requires some practice. As though entering a wormhole or underwater cavern, I had trouble at first making out the dark shapes of Powell’s “ancient ruins” and “drowned villages”. Gradually, in this world that is “God-lit. Dimmed by Germanic gloom,” the reader begins to recognize the features of an unearthly poetic landscape, replete with carved masks, vocal, untamed women, silent father-gods. Powell is a kind of diver and a diviner through memory [...]
George Elliott Clarke. Traverse. Exile Editions, 2014
~review by Roy Wang
To those who have followed George Elliot Clarke’s writing, this commemoration of his 30th anniversary as a poet adds some biographical background to the man and his favoured personas. (I use biography and omit the ‘auto’ because this is the poet writing about the man.) And one can no more tire of reading Clarke’s poetry than hearing Albert Collins play the blues.
Sing and play Clarke does, eschewing the natural AAB form to instead belt out loosely constructed sonnets, driven and riffing with puns, [...]
Matthew Zapruder. Sun Bear. Toronto: House of Anansi, 2014.
~reviewed by Christopher Doda
Don’t be put off by the exceedingly bland cover art: US poet Matthew Zapruder’s fourth collection Sun Bear contains much that warrants attention. Since his first book, Zapruder has been a poet of small moments; even when he takes on big topics, he eschews grand pronouncements in favour of a poignant ‘in,’ a moment where greater abstract forces, like politics or history, strike home on the average person.
Sun Bear finds him, in comparison to earlier collections, contemplating domestic life, [...]
Ken Babstock. On Malice. Toronto: Coach House, 2014.
~reviewed by David Swartz
There is something extraordinary about Ken Babstock’s ability to infuse, appropriate and intermingle his own voice with other poetic voices, while at the same time remaining true to his own fancy. “Perfect Distant Blue Objects,” Babstock’s poetic response to William Hazlitt’s 1822 essay “Why Distant Objects Please,” is a poem with a great deal of energy, profusion and risk taking, cutting into the metaphysical task of poetry itself (“Camera in pen. Lens”, or “We are not separated, / we are [...]
Jan Zwicky. Vittoria Colonna, Selections from the Rime Spirituali, English Texts. Erin, ON: The Porcupine’s Quill, Inc., 2014.
~reviewed by rob mclennan
The new collection Vittoria Colonna, Selections from the Rime Spirituali, “with photographs of Josep Maria Subirachs’ Passion Façade” by Robert Moody and “English Texts by Jan Zwicky,” is a curiosity. The book is made up of “ten Renaissance Italian poems” by “Vittoria Colonna, the first woman to achieve wide recognition as a poet in Renaissance Italy.” Compelling as both poet and historical figure, Vittoria Colonna was considered a rarity in [...]