Brandon Wint’s collection, Divine Animal, showcases his facility with words. Like the work of spoken word artists such as Toronto’s Andrea Thompson, his poetry sings on paper. Divine Animal is rich with anger, mourning, yearning, celebration, sensuality, and hope. The collection is also a timely and important reflection on the origins of systemic racism and long-time police brutality against Black people in the Western world.
I love this conceptually and formally playful book by Nasser Hussain, a catalogue of poems composed (we discover) exclusively of international airport location codes. His constraint-based collection glints with wit, humour and daring, uninterested in being compared with less formally audacious poetry carriers.
The Super-Kamiokande, a Cherenkov detector, is a large stainless-steel tank holding 50,000 tons of ultra pure water, sunk deep underground in the Kamioka-mine of Hida-city, Gifu, Japan. These conditions make it possible to observe the oscillations of solar, atmospheric, and man-made neutrinos—illustration of the creation of matter in the early universe. The detector also searches for evidence that protons decay; as the Super-Kamiokande home page notes, “if the proton decay is observed it may be possible to prove the GUTs [Grand Unified Theories].” If we believe the scientists (and Google), about 100 trillion neutrinos flow through your body every second.
Marilyn Gear Pilling’s seventh book of poetry, The Gods of East Wawanosh, comprises two sections. The first (I) emphasizes the book title, following the wayward, messy, traumatic, and poignant lives of one farming family through several generations in East Wawanosh, Huron County, Ontario. The second (II), “The Lives That Surround Us,” takes the reader in a different direction, focusing globally, the poems distinctive in scope and temperament.
Dark Woods is the third offering from Toronto poet Richard Sanger. The collection is deeply honest and somewhat uncomfortable in its portrayal of a dim, ordinary life touched by momentary excitement and its processing of aging, parenting, and mortality. While the book’s language doesn’t deny there are extraordinary moments in life, it doesn’t give way to them: life is confined, limited to what might have been, or may still be. There’s no obvious aspiration to live beyond the shadow of the trees.
The central tension of Lucas Crawford’s The High Line Scavenger Hunt explores the friction between transgender identity and architecture. He posits that architectural spaces are designed to keep trans bodies out. In this sense, trans bodies are the absent presence within architectural spaces, a presence that “haunts” them. This tension is not new for Crawford, as it is also the basis for his academic monograph titled, Transgender Architectonics (2015).
The archaeological excavation of a 2000-year-old woman (possibly a storyteller or shaman) in Siberia named Ledi, and an urgent excavation of the death of a former lover by suicide, are the focus of this fascinating and enigmatic book.
In the presence of something awe-inspiring, whether it’s music, painting, theatre, dance or writing, one part of me looks for design while another just surrenders. I experienced both impulses reading Russell Thornton’s The Broken Face: it was so beautiful I had to surrender, but I also had to seek a design so I could comprehend its beauty.
A human being denied water will die of thirst in three days; that same human being submerged in water will drown in three minutes. Conflicting impulses―need and power, love and suffocation, healing and destruction―are at the core of award-winning Métis poet Katherena Vermette’s second collection of poetry, which quietly unfolds with the smouldering, smooth-yet-heady, burning clarity most readily found in a mouthful of good whisky.
In the foreword What the Poets Are Doing: Canadian Poets in Conversation, editor Rob Taylor gives his inspiration for the collection: 2002’s Where the Words Come From: Canadian Poets in Conversation (Nightwood Editions) edited by Tim Bowling. Where Bowling’s editorial vision encompassed an homage to Al Purdy (who died in 2000), Taylor’s honours the work of deceased poet and Tragically Hip singer Gord Downey. The title, What the Poets Are Doing, echoes a lyric from the Tragically Hip song “Poets.”