Always read the notes first. The final pages of Lauren Turner’s debut collection The Only Card in a Deck of Knives state “This is not a memoir but an imperfect gathering of personal thoughts.” Imperfection—the blemish that reveals mystery—is poetry, or as Joy Harjo writes, “where there are no mistakes, there is no poetry.” Turner’s post-text warning also includes an admonition from Björk: “don’t let poets lie to you.”
A finalist for the Governor General’s Award, Armand Garnet Ruffo’s latest poetry collection Treaty # sees the artist and scholar thinking back on the lives of his Ojibwe ancestors, the state of affairs for Indigenous Peoples today, and the treaties that changed everything.
The slender strength of John Terpstra’s reissued chapbook This Orchard Sound somehow carries, with as much grace as grief, the weight of more than one Cross. In 2011, in his capacity as woodworker, Terpstra fulfilled a commission from a Hamilton church for a new Cross: a single, twisted branch, Cross as Christ, retrieved from a ruined urban orchard, its untended sounds (“as birds talk up / this stillness”) periodically drowned by Burlington traffic.
Jesse Patrick Ferguson’s third poetry collection, Mr. Sapiens, is a determinedly random miscellany of poems (topics include migraine, drones, Tim Hortons, a mangled bicycle, the butterfly effect, the ultrasound of a son, to name a few). There is some appeal in this, as you can read out of order, grazing as you will, and most readers will find something to enjoy, whether it’s the whimsical mapping of human physiology onto the frame of an abandoned bicycle or an ekphrastic take on Bernini or Klimt. And many of the poems contain a charming quirky humour combined with darker elegy. Take, for example, “Grave Rubbing”:
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 […]
Seeing Lessons is an ambitious undertaking, a fictionalized account of the life of Mattie Gunterman, a turn-of-the-century BC labour camp cook and nature photographer, who lived as few other women did then—self-sufficient, an artist at the frontier. Mattie set up camp, cooked the stew, saw to the sprat somehow keeping still for the lens, and […]