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Topic: reviews

Navigating Shifting Currents: Tanis Rideout’s Arguments with the Lake

Toronto-based writer Tanis Rideout’s acclaimed novel, Above All Things (McClelland and Stewart, 2012), was an account of George Mallory’s third and final attempt to conquer Mount Everest in 1924, and the wife he left behind, Ruth. The poems in Arguments with the Lake are likewise concerned with feats of strength and endurance, and the determination […]

Tongue Luck: Jeffery Donaldson’s Slack Action

An adept metaphor for the way poems engage in conversation within the canon, ‘slack action’ is a railroad term that describes the interplay between train cars, where free movement transmits from one linked car to another. It’s the ideal title for Jeffery Donaldson’s fifth book of poems, which marks a departure from the tightly wound […]

Picking Up the Pieces: Ann Shin’s The Family China

One can detect from the opening pages of The Family China that its author, Ann Shin, has a sense of craft that diverges from poetic conventions. The five long poems that comprise the book are crowded with drama, as well as with the silent scenes often omitted from the frame. That Shin is also a […]

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 […]

Necessary Voices: Kanina Dawson’s Masham Means Evening

Masham Means Evening is unique among poetry books published in Canada this year, not because Kanina Dawson’s style is especially engrossing but because she documents her time in the Canadian forces during her tour of Afghanistan. Structured chronologically, from her landing in Kabul to her return to civilian life, this poetic diary largely deals with […]

Gaps and Gravity: Daniela Elza’s milk tooth bane bone

Daniela Elza finds voice in both the gaps and the gravity of language in her second book, milk tooth bane bone, an interconnected series of poems that begins with this startling image: The four titular nouns typify what I mean by gravity and gaps. Elza places these words side by side as effortlessly as setting […]