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Topic: Harold Rhenisch

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, […]

The Dancing Body: Juleta Severson-Baker’s Incarnate

To be incarnate is to have a body, especially a human body. It is also to have a spirit that is made comprehensible through the gift of form. Severson-Baker is most definitely incarnate in both these senses in such poems as “Of.” In it, she writes “the opening of the orgasm was black.” This black […]

Delight and brilliant imagery: Jen Currin's The Inquisition Yours

Imagine a world in which identity is a question you ask of yourself. The world of Jen Currin’s most recent collection is such an inquisition. It is not in a state of “being,” as was the twentieth-century world, but of reading and of being read. The Inquisition Yours is two worlds, splitting, always, into more. […]

Be transformed: Don Domanski's All Our Wonder Unavenged

With the long lines and elegaic tones of “All Our Wonder Unavenged,” Domanski, arguably the best of Canadian poets, enters the territory of Charles Wright and W.S. Merwin, arguably the best of American ones, and shares with them the same strengths and weaknesses. The strengths include a complete identification with materiality that lifts it out of simple physicality, imagery that reaches into the spiritual fire of things (“the earth lying like a grain of wheat in a great barn”); a bittersweet sense of the limitations of the idea of the self (“you have nowhere to go, so you go,”); and an arresting freshness brought to a tradition that through most of its history has attempted to limit the present to the confines of the past. All three poets dwell in memory and explore its elusive territory as a process of renewal, made more poignant by its confrontation with a sense of complete temporal inconsequence outside of this lyrical act…

Quasi-sonnets: Harold Rhenisch's Free Will

It’s a truism that books come from other books. Shakespeare, for instance, borrowed storylines from classical antecedents. In the hands of a good writer, such appropriations become original works in their own right. I’m thinking here not only of Shakespeare’s plays, but of such brilliant latter-day adaptations of them as Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Aimé Césaire’s post-colonial version of The Tempest. Sometimes, however, adaptation takes on a parasitic tinge, either trivializing or leaning too heavily on the source material. Harold Rhenisch’s Free Will belongs, unfortunately, to this latter class…