Posts: Reviews »
Gillian Wigmore. Orient. London, ON: Brick Books, 2014.
~Reviewed by Marilyn Irwin
Wigmore begins her newest collection with a serial poem entitled “Skyward from the Self” which immediately thrusts the reader beside the narrator in the bow of her boat, revealing her penchant for meticulously placed devices such as alliteration and assonance in lines like “the flash of water flung skyward” and “the boat seats so cold our bums were numb.”
Orient is complimentary to her previous “eco-poetic” work (both poetry and fiction), as Wigmore’s attempts to situate and to understand the self and [...]
David Zieroth. Albrecht Dürer and Me. Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2014.
~ Reviewed by Cora Siré
If you can’t afford the time or money to travel this season, read Albrecht Dürer and Me by David Zieroth. But pack your intellect. This is no whirlwind tour of Central Europe. As the epigraph by Goethe promises, travel can change the reflective person “to the very marrow” of her bones.
The settings of Zieroth’s thirty-five poems are satisfyingly specific, zooming into cemeteries, galleries, concert halls and castles in Vienna, Salzburg, Trieste and elsewhere, most haunted by intriguing [...]
Don Coles. A Serious Call. Erin Village, ON: The Porcupine’s Quill, 2015.
~ Reviewed by Michael Greenstein
Don Coles’ latest collection consists of thirteen shorter poems followed by a longer narrative poem, “A Serious Call.” The opening unpunctuated “poem,” a minimalist whisper, collapses time between mother and son: “I was waiting to see if / it could be long ago.” Most of the poems in this volume involve a conversation between family members, between the poet’s past and present, or between poet and other literary figures. Bookending “poem” is “Untitled,” which is [...]
Rita Bouvier. nakamowin’sa for the seasons. Saskatoon, SK: Thistledown Press, 2015.
~Review by Marilyn Dumont
Rita Bouvier’s third collection of poetry, nakamowin’sa for the seasons, is a book of free verse that quietly persuades the reader to consider “a different way of being” when entering the work. Beginning with the title, nakamowin’sa, a Cree term that translates to ‘little songs’ in English, would suggest the songs are light renderings of experiences by a poet. But Bouvier understands the struggles and racial oppression of her ancestors who rowed the York boats, guided the [...]
Jeff Latosik. Safely Home Pacific Western. Saskatoon, SK: Goose Lane Editions, 2015.
~ Reviewed by Allison LaSorda
Jeff Latosik’s Safely Home Pacific Western is a unique take on a travelogue, focusing on the impact of the sights along the way and exploring varieties of individual interpretation. In part II of the title poem, the speaker situates himself “in an asteroid belt of the things not that we just lost / but never felt departing. How did all that become so distant / in me?” This is one gesture towards the sense of [...]
Liz Howard. Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2015.
~ E Martin Nolan
Canada’s colonial history is fraught, so in Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent, Liz Howard approaches it as a complex field one can enter, but not totally know. Within that field lies the speaker’s absent, drunk father, her welfare-collecting, painter mother, “settler dreams,” Copernicus, her great-grandfather, Erín Moure, Coyote, Wittgenstein and much more.
Coyote and Wittgenstein provide important clues to Infinite Citizen. In Native myth, Coyote’s main attribute tends to be some form of evasiveness, or trickery [...]
Patrick Lane. Washita. Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2015.
~ Review by Anouk Henri
There’s a saying that death lies in the crease of your sleeve. Death is similarly woven into the pages of Patrick Lane’s latest book, Washita. From the opening poem where the dead arrive not with gilded fanfare but “like turnips pulled winter-burned and cold from the soil” to the final poem in which the narrator cuts a doe’s throat under an apple tree, tragedy and loss underpin this quietly devastating collection.
If all things must disappear into death and [...]
A.F. Moritz. Sequence. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2015.
~Review by Alison Goodwin
“It has to be living, / to learn the speech of the place…” Wallace Stevens observes in “Modern Poetry.” Sequence is written in the language of a desert, thirsting; its atmosphere is predominantly extreme and elemental. Words scratched in the sand are blown away in the next breath: “We set out because we were commanded / and yet of course we were told equally to stay home.” The days are hot enough to split stones “With a gunshot crack,” and [...]
Jalal Barzanji. Trying Again to Stop Time. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 2015.
~ Review by Kimmy Beach
Jalal Barzanji’s new and selected, Trying Again to Stop Time, veers from the usual way these collections are put together. While most retrospectives of this type begin at the outset of a poet’s career and work through to recent poems—or are collected without reference to the years and titles of the original texts—this book takes us backward.
We see the progression of the Kurdish-Canadian poet’s craft by watching the complexity of images grow and expand [...]
Patrick Friesen. A Short History of Crazy Bone. Salt Spring Island, BC: Mother Tongue Publishing, 2015.
~ Reviewed by Harold Rhenisch
A crazy bone might be crazy (mad) or cracked (crazed) or just a funny bone that feels weird when you hit it. In Friesen’s take, it’s all three, which is not either half so funny nor crazy as it looks. It’s mostly cracked open and broken with fine lines, a hollow bone you whistle through. Such bones are war whistles. Men blow in them. Women sing.
Friesen’s blowing is a long poem, a [...]