Style and tradition are fostered in Erín Moure’s newest book, whose full cover title, The Elem:ents (Nam:loz), instantly engages my Derridean sensibilities. It is a book that substantially dredges up the subjective experience and objective facts of her genealogy into a compelling synthesis of her self-identity, with a poignant focus on her father’s dementia through the lens of Derrida.
Posthumously published at the opening of 2020, Teva Harrison’s collection Not One of These Poems Is About You documents her experience of her last years of life before she passed away from metastatic breast cancer. She opens the collection with “A Pocketful of Stones”: “I’d like to close the distance between us: where you end, where I begin, / but your skin stops me, I can’t find my way in.” Harrison keeps her reader in a space of closeness and intimacy through her loose rhymes and clear language.
The end is as good a place to start as the beginning; “A gift no NDN should waste.” This final thought left on the page by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson leaves me with one last ironic and fist-clenching observation about Indigenous sovereignty. Through “satire and sarcasm,” eloquence, and a strong Anishinaaabe lens, her “write what you know” storytelling philosophy is full of humour, truth, beauty, and love – and is always political. Decolonizing moments live within every song and story found in This Accident of Being Lost.
In his previous collections, Kevin Connolly didn’t deny his reliance on found text—he lifted, glossed, and annotated both direct borrowings and inspirations. The more comprehensive recycling that structures Xiphoid Process may indicate the growing influence of conceptual writing and increased use of found text across swaths of contemporary poetry. Connolly’s approach to copying, however, is less radical than recent works like Ken Babstock’s On Malice and Moez Surani’s Operations. Rather, it is a snarkier – yet more formally conservative – poet taking aim at past versions of himself by using his own work as found text.
Introducing The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology 2012, editor David O’Meara borrows from Rilke: “Poetry is the past that breaks out in our hearts.” The shortlisted poets—four international and three Canadian, whose work was judged by O’Meara alongside the eminent Fiona Sampson and Heather McHugh—explore, O’Meara writes, “the wreckage of history, studying our personal hopes and […]