(How Poems Work, February 2006)
This poem is one of an 11-part collection entitled “Elles” that won PRISM International’s Earle Birney Prize for Poetry (2000) and was shortlisted for the National Magazine Award for Poetry (2000). Based on the series by the same name, produced in 1896 by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, each poem takes on the voice of the woman featured in the lithograph. They are residents of a brothel, yet each poem reveals the woman separate from her profession; these are women caught in ordinary activities: waking, dressing, bathing….
(How Poems Work, November 2003)
“Tigers Know From Birth” appeared in Anne Wilkinson’s 1955 collection, The Hangman Ties the Holly–the second of only two volumes of Anne Wilkinson’s poetry to be published during her lifetime. Happily this poem, along with the rest of her work, is readily available in a new collection of her poems from Vehicule Press.
Wilkinson’s death from cancer in 1961 at age 50 robbed Canada of one of our finest poets. She began publishing in literary journals in the late 1940’s, and from the start her poems were met with high acclaim by many of the most influential critics and poets of the time.
A.J.M Smith, in his introduction to The Collected Poems of Anne Wilkinson (Macmillan, 1968), noted that “one aspect of her poetry [is] its intimate sensuous identification with life as a growth out of the earth;” and that “the body and its senses were the instruments through which nature and reality entered the mind and became a part of being” …
(How Poems Work, October 2003)
Charles Bruce (1906-1971) wrote numerous poems, as well as short stories and a novel, evoking life in the Chedabucto Bay area of Nova Scotia where he was raised. A journalist by profession, he spent most of his career in Toronto with Canadian Press (CP), and wrote the original _CP Stylebook_.
“Biography” first appeared in Bruce’s 1951 book _The Mulgrave Road_, which won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. The collection portrays a community whose inhabitants rely on land and sea, as well as one-another, for their livelihood….
(How Poems Work, September 2003)
Years ago, I read that Canadian poet Alden Nowlan said poems are ‘little epiphanies–everyone has them, but poets write them down.’ His comment comes to mind when I read Barbara Nickel’s work–especially her sonnets.
In “Busking,” a violinist has taken her music from the stage to the streets. Nickel enlivens a familiar market scene with language so vivid it awakens all our senses and leaves them tingling long after our eyes leave the page. The ‘little epiphany’ here is something we all know–that music, indeed all art, is food for the soul. Nickel ‘makes it new’ in the spirit of Ezra Pound’s dictum when he urged poets to write in free verse, but she does so through one of our oldest received forms, the English sonnet. …