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Stephen Brockwell. Complete Surprising Fragments of Improbable Books. Toronto, ON: Mansfield, 2013.
–reviewed by Jesse Patrick Ferguson
Ottawa poet Stephen Brockwell’s Complete Surprising Fragments of Improbable Books is structured on a unique principle: the collection’s eleven sections are presented as fragments from other found volumes, each of which has an unlikely theme, perspective or provenance. For example, a selection from one of the non-existent volumes, Cantos of the 1%, presents poems centred on the experiences of the wealthy and privileged, while The Archives of the Ministry of Spiritual Ascendance’s epistolary poems address [...]
Stephen Collis and Jordan Scott. Decomp. Toronto ON: Coach House Books, 2013.
~Reviewed by rob mclennan
Through their collaborative Decomp (Coach House Books) Vancouver poet Stephen Collis and Port Moody, British Columbia poet Jordan Scott seem to have composed both a project, and a document of that project. As the press release tells us: “In five distinct ecosystems in British Columbia, Stephen Collis and Jordan Scott left copies of Darwin’s book out in the open. A year later, they found them in various states of decomposition; each ecosystem allowed nature to recompose [...]
Catherine Graham. Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects. Hamilton, ON: Wolsak & Wynn, 2013.
~Reviewed by Anouk H. Henri
Catherine Graham’s fifth collection pays informal tribute to Dorothy Molloy, an Irish poet who died of liver cancer just days before her first book was published in 2004. Graham notes that most of her poems started out as glosas, a 14th century Spanish form, incorporating four lines from a Molloy poem before finding their own expression. While poems like “Peas and Barbie” read like a direct response, others have journeyed far [...]
Richard Norman. Zero Kelvin. Windsor: Biblioasis, 2013.
~Reviewed by Rachael Wyatt
Absolute zero, or zero Kelvin, is the unreachable absolute stillness of matter, a theoretical limit-point, the state of matter with no energy, when even the smallest atomic vibrations have stilled. It is, for me, a metaphor for a moment of absolute still oneness with the universe. We can only approach it, never achieve it: the effort required to cool anything to zero Kelvin is astronomical. Richard Norman’s reach within this volume is astronomical as well: he launches musings about the mundane [...]
Anne-Marie Turza. The Quiet. Toronto: Anansi, 2014.
~Reviewed by Jean Van Loon
“The job of a house is to have a roof. / The job of a life? It might be anything / made of wood or drift or warning.” So ends “Households,” the opening poem in the second section of this book. From a straightforward declaration, to a metaphor, and then to language that skips—object to movement to emotion—these lines move at a speed that sends my mind spinning. This small excerpt represents just one example of the mastery in this polished [...]
Peter Richardson. Bit Parts For Fools. Fredericton, NB: Icehouse Poetry, 2013.
~Reviewed by Harold Rhenisch
It’s not every day that a book of poems saunters in through the door, talking out of one side of its mouth like Ralph Gustafson and through the other like Wallace Stevens—but this is that day. Gustafson perfected a poetry in which the grammar was laid down with the precision of a Bach cantata. It wasn’t the sound of the words with which he was playing, but the musculature of his sentences. He drew from Stevens, who [...]
Joanna Lilley. The Fleece Era. London, ON: Brick Books, 2014.
~Reviewed by Al Rempel
In a voice that is at times happily off-kilter and nearly musical, the poems in Joanna Lilley’s The Fleece Era seek to solve the riddles of her present life in the Yukon and her past familial relationships, which began in the UK. The north poses its own questions. “What’s it like living / in a forest as big as a country?” the poet asks in the titular poem. In “Earth Crack,” she asks,
What if the dotted line
of the Arctic [...]
Niki Koulouris. The Sea with no one in it. Erin, ON: The Porcupine’s Quill, 2014.
~Reviewed by E. Martin Nolan
Part One: Poems Without Much In Them
These first twenty poems lack anchor. This might be the idea—to let the poems drift free—but, if so, it’s not working. “As for the sea / it has no number, no colour,” we’re told in no. 14 (the poems are all numbered, and are, for the most part, otherwise untitled). This suggests limitlessness, as does no. 3:
her great hide
for she is perfect
without a shield
JonArno Lawson. Enjoy it While it Hurts. Hamilton: Wolsak & Wynn, 2013.
~Reviewed by Marilyn Irwin
JonArno Lawson’s newest and third book of poetry, Enjoy it While it Hurts, opens with words that function as epigraph, foreshadow, and guide: “An edifying miscellany of quarrelsome quips, holiday oddities, curious thoughts and apocalyptic melancholia.” Take heed.
Lawson expertly employs various tongue twirls, rhythms, and rhyme schemes nostalgic of Mother Goose, Dr. Seuss, Aesop, and Buddha, all of which expertly gather and sustain unwavering momentum. The allegorical vignette-type, haiku-esque, anthropomorphic poems in this collection range from one-liners [...]
Jude Neale. A Quiet Coming of Light: A Poetic Memoir. Lantzville, B.C.: Leaf Press, 2014.
~Reviewed by Norma Dunning
When I read, A Quiet Coming of Light, I found myself thinking that, if author Jude Neale loves you, she loves you with the deepest and purest of loves. Neale is a writer of love, whether it is for her parents or twin brother or her children who are blessed to have a mother who writes her adoration into her work. At the same time, Neale is not afraid to write of disappointment [...]