A human being denied water will die of thirst in three days; that same human being submerged in water will drown in three minutes. Conflicting impulses―need and power, love and suffocation, healing and destruction―are at the core of award-winning Métis poet Katherena Vermette’s second collection of poetry, which quietly unfolds with the smouldering, smooth-yet-heady, burning clarity most readily found in a mouthful of good whisky.
Michael Fraser’s latest collection, To Greet Yourself Arriving, is the only book of poetry I’ve ever read with a glossary. That Fraser felt he needed one in a collection whose central theme is famous Black men and women could be said to be, in part, an excellent reason for writing such a book. With a rare sort of graceful simplicity, the poet takes readers boldly by the wrist and thrusts them into a room full of voices―a party where inventor Elijah McCoy is having a cocktail with astronomer Neil de Grasse Tyson, ex-president Barack Obama listens to boxing heavyweight champion Jack Johnson recount a famous bout and Howlin’ Wolf smokes a spliff while Maya Angelou reads aloud to entertain the crowd.