For many, year-end means a moment of reflection, and the appearance of lists, lists and more lists. I’ve received and picked up numerous poetry chapbooks, and thought it might be worth compiling a list of the Canadian titles that really stuck out, over the past calendar year.
Archives for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category
Unlike The Sweet Fuels, her first collection of poetry, Chaser is more like one long poem inspired by a handful of texts. Her interest in other people’s mail propelled her to read the letters of John Keats and Katherine Mansfield, taking note that most writers from a certain time period suffered from tuberculosis simply because it was just something everyone seemed to have. But it was in Keats’s letters that she started to tap into the value of his words.
Susan Musgrave, Lorna Crozier and Sharon Thesen, three vital, important Canadian poets, manage to do this. All three have been publishing for at least 20 years, reside in British Columbia (in fact, all have poems that take place on or refer to Haida Gwaii) and it is fair to say that they are all at the top of their games. In terms of tone and poetic style, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Their new books are simply stunning.
Zoe Whittall/The Globe and Mail
The book is written in a clear, engaging voice and never descends into sensationalist finger-pointing. Fostaty spends more than half the book recounting the events of the tragic day, but his narrative moves along briskly, without unnecessary detail or excessive editorializing. And his analysis of both the media coverage of the incident and the subsequent government investigation is concise and objective.
Paul Challen/Quill & Quire
Compton’s beautifully written novel captures us and drags us underneath the surface story, deep into the protagonist’s memories. Interestingly, Sonia’s excursion into her past leads her through an experience not unlike falling through thin ice into a cold, dark lake: the protagonist’s memories are blurry, but the pain she feels is always raw and vivid.
Julie Leroux/Maple Tree Literary Supplement
Modern and Normal
It’s National Poetry Month, so every Monday in April I will be reviewing/discussing a book of Canadian poetry.
Angela Hickman/Books Under Skin
Transcendental poets such as Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman, who were also inspired by and deeply connected to the physical environment, used nature to show what it meant to be human. They were convinced that immersion in nature can teach us to understand ourselves, and in an era when we spend less and less time outside (less than any other in history), Armstrong’s poetry is a powerful reminder of what we’re missing.
Megan Power/Chronicle Herald
From the elegiac quality of “Fetal”, in which the speaker tells of a stillborn twin, the indelible understanding of timing in the way Donaldson breaks a line, to the wit and humour in poems such as “A Note To My Poem”, wherein the speaker addresses the poem as if it were a lover, and the ease of the transition from one stanza to another, Donaldson’s unerring fit of form to sense pervades.
If you were ever a teenaged badass in Montreal, the girl version, you will know Lee Goodstone. He’s the kind of dealer you can befriend with ease; he’ll smoke you up for the exchange of his appreciative glances and harness the kind of wit an adolescent girl will swoon for in its cynical wisdom, and later recognize as trite.
Zoe Whittall reviews You comma Idiot for Globe and Mail