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Topic: 2019

“The whole description is fiction.” The Bones Are There by Kate Sutherland

In her second collection of poems, The Bones Are There, Kate Sutherland shows how the real is made mythic by its disappearance and questions whose purpose this mythos is serving. Her poems unearth this fact: the scientific is folkloric. Expertly crafting scientific and first-hand source material, she calls into clear view the myth making nature of historical “fact” and the efficacy of conservation science when serving a colonial philosophy.

Undoing Orthodoxies: Kabir’s Jacket has a Thousand Pockets by Ayaz Pirani

Ayaz Pirani’s book Kabir’s Jacket has a Thousand Pockets is a collection of creative, intellectually flexible poems inspired by ginans, a kind of Indian devotional poem, in the contemplative tradition of Ismaili hymns and songs. Pirani writes supplications, laments, and parables in a form meant to be memorized and sung. While ginans are normally written in Indian languages, these English-language ginans explore diverse cultural terrain ranging from Sufi parables of birds to Western pop culture. The poems are not hermetically sealed off, instead requiring interpretation.

From One Treaty Person to Another: Treaty # by Armand Garnet Ruffo

A finalist for the Governor General’s Award, Armand Garnet Ruffo’s latest poetry collection Treaty # sees the artist and scholar thinking back on the lives of his Ojibwe ancestors, the state of affairs for Indigenous Peoples today, and the treaties that changed everything.

Transgressionary Norms: Renaissance Normcore by Adèle Barclay

Like the book’s title, the poems of Adèle Barclay’s Renaissance Normcore move swiftly from unassuming to tightly coiled and somewhat provocative. “You Don’t Have to Choose But You Do” follows fast from epigraphs by Jenny Lewis and Fiona Apple and into the more traditionally literary, creating a Facebook Messenger conversation between Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller. The deft maneuvering is, by the end of the poem’s twenty-two lines, made comprehensible in the framework of an inequitable exchange: “I read their letters / and imagine them both on Facebook Messenger— / all the dick pics he’d send; her, chatting up / several men at once and never recycling material.”

Beards, Orchids and Hangers: Downtown Flirt by Peter Jickling

Chronicling the narrative of a Yukon lad turned Torontonian, Downtown Flirt speaks to urban living with refreshingly honest poetry. From contemplating a second shower to fix a soapy scrotum to the cons of black mattress covers, Jickling brings the reader into these lived moments with full transparency. The casual tone and diction of the poetry make it incredibly accessible, as it reads like a series of relatable journal entries rooted in economic struggle, connection amidst social isolation, and the congestion of urban living.

A Loving Bond: The Long Bond: Selected and New Poems by Allan Briesmaster

Allan Briesmaster’s new volume yields the rich gifts of his long, involved bond with poetry. Behind his careful work pulses an instinct, both genuine and inevitable of a writer who sees poems everywhere, all the time.

Sketching “A Glimmer of that Majesty”: Swoon by Elana Wolff

Attentive to the mysteries of their worlds, the speakers in Elana Wolff’s sixth poetry collection, Swoon, incarnate the same sensual curiosity that characterized the author’s previous collection, Everything Reminds You of Something Else (Guernica, 2017). While that title announced Wolff’s penchant for allusive expression, Swoon suggests the affective experience centred in her searching, spiritual lyrics.

nightlack / grieflung: A Cemetery for Holes by Tom Prime and Gary Barwin

At first glance, A Cemetery for Holes may not attract too much attention to the intricacy of collaborative communication, but upon closer inspection a Lichtenberg pattern of trauma burns itself into the margins of each page. Tom Prime weaves a narrative of trauma as Gary Barwin’s poetry acts as a convex mirror for Prime’s distorted self-portrait.

Bearing Witness: Fresh Pack of Smokes by Cassandra Blanchard

Cassandra Blanchard’s debut collection of poetry, Fresh Pack of Smokes, opens up the world of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for the reader. Deftly using the prose poem to illuminate the inner-workings of the complex emotional and psychological experiences of addiction, Blanchard depicts life in the DTES with detail and care.

Deconstructing Prairie Lore: Vulgar Mechanics by K.B. Thors

In K.B. Thors’ debut collection of poetry the Ukrainian-Icelandic Canadian deftly weaves the themes of identity and oppression through the rural landscape of Alberta.