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Topic: Canadian poetry

Tending Wounds: Fionncara MacEoin’s Not the First Thing I’ve Missed

Not the First Thing I’ve Missed, Saskatoon poet Fionncara MacEoin’s debut collection, anthologizes the break and swell of the everyday. The book indexes shortcomings, poverty, addiction, the transience of home, and the promising breadth of nature. Despite the book’s title, it is hard to imagine, with her spare, merciless, fearless verse, that MacEoin misses much […]

Hard Looking: Richard Greene's Dante's House

Dante’s House, Richard Greene’s follow up to Boxing the Compass, which won the 2010 Governor General’s Award, shows once again his fluency with blank verse narratives, rhyming couplets, and this time, an extended terza rima account of a summer teaching stint in Siena, Italy. His new book’s opening poems take the reader, for starters, to […]

Calling Through the Cold: Allan Cooper and Harry Thurston’s The Deer Yard

Given the immensity of Canada’s geography and the breadth of its poetic styles, it’s surprising that poetic correspondences, such as the one between Allan Cooper and Harry Thurston, don’t occur more frequently. The Deer Yard is a verse exchange that invokes the Wang River Sequence between 8th c. Chinese poets Wang Wei and his friend […]

Who Can Resist?: bpNichol’s Organ Music

  There have been an enormous number of bpNichol titles produced over the past few years. Organ Music is one such volume, a longer version of Selected Organs (Black Moss Press, 1988) that contains one previously unpublished poem. It is constructed of eleven autobiographical sequences of prose poems composed throughout the 1980s on the subject […]

Arc 74: It's Awards Season!

Poem of the Year and Diana Brebner Prize winners. Look inside for Kristina Bresnen’s intricate crown of sonnets that pulled in the Poem of the Year’s $5000 1st prize!

Far from Mystery: Barry Dempster's Invisible Dogs

In “The Gulls,” the opening poem of Barry Dempster’s 2010 collection Blue Wherever, the protagonist’s idyllic musings are interrupted by the blast of a gull’s ragged caw, the sudden sense that nature hates you without regard to good intentions or poetic haze, whatever you call yourself at your most vague demanding to be left alone […]

Navigating Shifting Currents: Tanis Rideout’s Arguments with the Lake

Toronto-based writer Tanis Rideout’s acclaimed novel, Above All Things (McClelland and Stewart, 2012), was an account of George Mallory’s third and final attempt to conquer Mount Everest in 1924, and the wife he left behind, Ruth. The poems in Arguments with the Lake are likewise concerned with feats of strength and endurance, and the determination […]

Tongue Luck: Jeffery Donaldson’s Slack Action

An adept metaphor for the way poems engage in conversation within the canon, ‘slack action’ is a railroad term that describes the interplay between train cars, where free movement transmits from one linked car to another. It’s the ideal title for Jeffery Donaldson’s fifth book of poems, which marks a departure from the tightly wound […]

Laughing Towards Apocalypse: Al Rempel’s This Isn’t the Apocalypse We Hoped For

Rempel’s playful title is well chosen. Is he living in an apocalypse somehow different from one hoped for? Is it a disappointing apocalypse? Is he not living in an apocalypse at all? Does he miss it? Whatever it is, “fat bees hover above satellite dishes purple in colour,” as he writes in the title poem, […]

Heartfelt and Urgent: Pamela Porter’s Late Moon

“I didn’t know which I’d find— / the father watching at the window / or the one in hiding / behind the mountain” writes Pamela Porter in “The River Asked Me”, an early poem in this unusually lengthy book (121 pages). The collection spins around an unknown but richly imagined birth father, with the occasional […]