Posts: Reviews »
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]