Posts: Reviews »
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 [...]
Karen Enns. Ordinary Hours. London, ON: Brick Books, 2014.
~ Reviewed by Michael Greenstein
From the opening notes in “Prelude,” music plays a thematic and technical role throughout Karen Enns’ understated Ordinary Hours. “Nothing is happening. / Rachmaninoff plays in the other room / but there is nothing here.” The poem develops a series of negatives (“no” and “not”) which paradoxically create a presence through sound and sense. “Nothing” and “something” are characteristic nouns that rhyme internally with her participles. Significantly Rachmaninoff’s music appears indirectly in “the other room” where something may [...]
Susan Paddon. Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths. London, ON: Brick Books, 2014.
~ Reviewed by Brenda Leifso
It cannot be easy to lose a mother, and it especially cannot be easy to watch a mother die over an extended period of time. Susan Paddon’s collection, Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths, honestly and adeptly takes us through her experience of watching her mother die from a pulmonary illness – “the wings inside her / changing like a peppered moth” at the same time it reaches to compare this death with Anton Chekov’s.
The book [...]
Dennis Cooley. abecedarium. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 2014.
~ Reviewed by Anita Dolman
An abecedarium traditionally shows off or teaches an alphabet through inscription or by highlighting the letters’ use, in alphabetical order, throughout a script. Dennis Cooley’s book is not an abecedarium in the same sense. What it is is a joyful, typically Cooleyan homage to the sounds and intricacies that are part of and stem from the English alphabet, and to the meanings to which they can lead.
Reading Cooley is like a hug welcoming one back to a different [...]
Len Gasparini. Mirror Image. Toronto: Guernica Editions, 2014.
~ Reviewed by Patricia Keeney
In Mirror Image, a compact and spirited collection that includes poems, a dramatic monologue, a dramatic dialogue and a short story, Guernica has produced a portrait of veteran writer Len Gasparini that is by turns droll, lyrical, wistful and artlessly attentive to craft.
The numbered sequence called “Memories of the Rockin’ Fifties” takes us back with what feels like total recall. Poem after poem gives us suicide knobs, Elvis, short-shorts, James Dean, drive-ins, Jack Kerouac, sputnik and beatnik. Classic moments caught [...]
Shoshanna Wingate. Radio Weather. Signal Editions, 2014.
~Reviewed by Emily Davidson
Shoshanna Wingate’s Radio Weather opens with an ice storm. Ignoring discussions of climate change, callers to a local radio show recount “jumping out / of windows when the doors were blocked with snow,” reflections of past weather disrupting the squall of the moment. After all, claims Wingate’s speaker, “Weather serves up memory / better than any book.”
In her debut collection, the establishing editor of Newfoundland’s Riddle Fence tips her hand early. These are memory poems, pieces concerned with what happened, what didn’t, [...]
Ella Zeltserman. Small things left behind. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2014
~reviewed by Barbara Myers
It’s been more than thirty years and Ella Zeltserman is still homesick for many small things – like bouquets of tiny forest flowers sold by babushkas in the market, and an old coat lost and forgotten that she guessed “like Gogol’s, went for a stroll/along noisy Nevsky” visiting well-remembered sights and shops (“coat”). The book’s title is both ironic and exact – it was hardly a small thing for a young couple to escape with their [...]
Ed. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jonathan Ball. Why Poetry Sucks: An Anthology of Humorous Experimental Canadian Poetry. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2014.
~reviewed by rob mclennan
Winnipeg poet and filmmaker Jonathan Ball and Vancouver poet Ryan Fitzpatrick’s new anthology, Why Poetry Sucks: An Anthology of Humorous Experimental Canadian Poetry, was built to respond against the idea that poetry can’t be taken seriously if it is funny. At nearly three hundred pages of work by forty-three contributors, it provides an essential counterpoint to so much of the “serious work” of Canadian writing, constructed out of [...]