Conor McDonnell’s debut collection, Recovery Community, portrays a powerful sense of empathy that is “held down / by stones in pockets” (The Scalded Sea). In cycles of addiction, obsession, and recovery, there is both cause for optimism and a sense of impending doom, knowing that even when the afflicted are on the way to breaking the cycle, “This will never end // There is always / more to come” (Rebar).
This beautiful book of poems is rooted in the history of Ottawa, but opens itself into so much more as you read through it. mclennan, a prolific writer, reviewer, and publisher of poetry, lives and works there. The epigraph to the first section, from Sarah Mangold’s “An Antenna Called the Body”, sets the tone, suggesting that we need to realize that we all should begin at a place of “not knowing.” From there, we can reconstruct our own meanings, histories, and personal stories.
Book of Short Sentences is Alice Burdick’s fourth book of poetry and her third with Mansfield Press. Like Burdick’s previous offerings, Book of Short Sentences consists mainly of plain language lyric poetry, a surreal half-step removed from reality in its leaps and juxtapositions. My favourite moment of narrative emerges in a (seeming) found poem entitled “Pleasant knowledge (a choral work),” which juxtaposes comment spam with contributions from sweet, lonely, punctuation-adrift internet strangers: “Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. / I found a sea shell and gave it to my four year old daughter / and said ‘You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.’ / She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was / a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.”
With his conversational style, David McFadden brings something familiar, each poem a memory framed into the Instagram shape of a sonnet, each page a flip through a photo album annotated with the wild, delightful, and unpredictable thoughts of a unique mind.
With Rotten Perfect Mouth, Eva H.D. leaps onto Canada’s poetry stage as an unknown, the book imparting her first published poetry. It would have been a risk for Mansfield Press, had H.D.’s voice been less strong, her imagery less vivid and haunting, or her sense of what troubles us less exact.
From train graffiti to the history of chewing gum, H.D. focuses with keen precision on the magnificent, rotten details of daily living.