Jack Spicer urges, in Admonitions, “not to search for the perfect poem but to let your way of writing of the moment go along its own paths, explore and retreat but never fully be realized (confined) within the boundaries of one poem.” For Spicer “there is really no single poem…they cannot live alone any more than we can.” In Music at the Heart of Thinking by Fred Wah, these ideas come to full life in the uncontainable verse of a long-poem.
In the “Author’s Note” that prefaces Sh:Lam (The Doctor), Joseph A. Dandurand states that his poems “tell the truth of what has happened to [his] people.” He explains, “The Kwantlen people used to number in the thousands, but 80% of our people were wiped out by smallpox and now there are only 200 of us.” He also describes how the voice of the Healer drove him to write the poems: they are the “tale of a Kwantlen man who has been given the gift of healing but also is a heroin addict living on the east side.”
In her second collection of poems, The Bones Are There, Kate Sutherland shows how the real is made mythic by its disappearance and questions whose purpose this mythos is serving. Her poems unearth this fact: the scientific is folkloric. Expertly crafting scientific and first-hand source material, she calls into clear view the myth making nature of historical “fact” and the efficacy of conservation science when serving a colonial philosophy.
Ayaz Pirani’s book Kabir’s Jacket has a Thousand Pockets is a collection of creative, intellectually flexible poems inspired by ginans, a kind of Indian devotional poem, in the contemplative tradition of Ismaili hymns and songs. Pirani writes supplications, laments, and parables in a form meant to be memorized and sung. While ginans are normally written in Indian languages, these English-language ginans explore diverse cultural terrain ranging from Sufi parables of birds to Western pop culture. The poems are not hermetically sealed off, instead requiring interpretation.