A magical filmic quality infiltrates Nick Thran’s most recent collection. Viewpoints shift according to the book’s three-part structure. The eye of the camera first captures site-specific interactions then pulls back to expose the surreal qualities of contemporary decadence. In the final part, the lens zooms into the raw truths of existence in everyday situations, an approach that conjures cinéma vérité.
Jeanette Lynes’ latest book engages on multiple levels. Bedlam Cowslip: The John Clare Poems can be read as biography, time travel, (channeled) memoir or simply, if you overlook the collection’s subtitle, as the continuation of a prolific Canadian poet’s exploration of identity and landscape, language, form and metaphor in this, her seventh collection of poetry.
If you visualize the prose poem as a canvas, given its rectangular shape on the page, then reading Melissa Bull’s debut collection, Rue, is like experiencing an installation in an underground gallery with all your senses brought to high alert. The lighting is demanding (think strobe), subjects raw and frisson-inducing, landscapes more urban than not, accompanied by the “perpetual groan of engines from the highways behind the traintracks.” Dispersed among the canvasses, you encounter collage-like poems in stanzas tight with edgy precision: “Last spring his limbs bent on a folding chair / heron in the Green Room / I shot him down.”
Meet graffitichild. Androgynous flâneur, she/he’s your intrepid guide into the urban underside of Steven Artelle’s debut collection, Metropantheon. (Full disclosure: he and I share the same publisher.) Through graffitichild’s demonic/saintly eyes, you experience “the noble stagger of addicts” and “catscratch legs and red lace” of the goddess of love.