Posts: Reviews »
Brian Bartlett. Ringing Here and There. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2014
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) ranges from prose poems [...]
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 [...]
Wanda Praamsma. a thin line between. Toronto: BookThug, 2014
~ Reviewed by Jean Van Loon
This book, Wanda Praamsma’s first, is a long poem that does not easily reveal itself. At first reading, it is about Praamsma’s journey to Holland to learn through relatives about her maternal grandfather, a renowned Dutch poet. And yet, as she says of her trip, “the point is not always the point in the end.”
The account of the journey forms the poem’s spine, written in a low-key style that occasionally lapses into the bland. Interspersed, often offset on the [...]
Erina Harris. The Stag Head Spoke. Hamilton, ON: Buckrider Books, 2014
~ Reviewed by Al Rempel
In her first book of poetry, The Stag Head Spoke, Erina Harris’ dark and complex verse takes her readers down a rabbit hole. Harris removes our footing; what we catch in terms of characterization, or setting, or conclusion, what sense we make from syntax, comes through collage and glimpse and echo. Her expert play at language, reminding me at times of Dennis Lee’s work, acts like — to modify Lewis Carroll’s metaphor — setae or bristles [...]
Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang. Status Update: Fernie, BC: Oolichan Books, 2013.
~ Reviewed by James K. Moran
Wise readers should forego this review and instead find Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang’s Status Update. Her second collection of poems and seventh book in three years is an oddly profound, quirkily rewarding catch-all interpretation of Facebook postings. It is a deceptively simple premise, but what began as a writing exercise for the author fresh from completing her MFA at the University of British Columbia has bloomed into something else—a fun and moving exercise for readers. Tsiang discovers not [...]