This week's Snapshots feature younger and emerging writers in honour of our Poetry Lives Here! campaign. The following books are all examples of strong, emerging Canadian poets. Each of these women write about motherhood, animal-imagery, and violence with such sharp emotional wit that the poems themselves feel emotionally violent. Bird poetry is reappropriated from its usual flightiness into powerful testimonies of inequality, violence, and trauma, while objects are shown to bear the weight of even the most painful experiences.
Andrea Bennett is a freelance writer, reasearcher, and illustrator living in Vancouver, BC. She is the designer of PRISM international, a contributing editor at Geist, and an interviews editor for Canadian Women in the Literary Arts (CWILA). Canoodlers, her debut poetry collection, offers a fresh perspective on the ‘coming-of-age story’. Bennett’s poetry is a charming mix of feminism, youth, knowledge, and violence. She explores the affects of fame (“when you are famous, / everything you do is famous”) and media (“ready for the palate / of a judge, we / cut to commercial”) on our experiences, and shows how the familial has become one with consumerism in the current age. In Canoodlers, every one and everything tells a story, whether “a wig. A watch. A convertible” or “a suitcase full of clothing. Petticoats / and Mary Janes. A fall, a fall.”
House of Anansi Press
Sara Peters has her MFA from Boston University and was a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University from 2010 to 2012. Her first poetry collection 1996, like Bennett’s, tells a coming-of-age narrative through the exploration of youth, violence, and feminism. But 1996 is very much its own story and Peters’ voice is unforgettably unique. In 1996 the everyday becomes alarming, (“secrets thud / like June bugs against screens, / and all you have to do is let them in”) femininity becomes unsettling (“we know we are in this, up to our waists. But still we’re ashamed / to want what we cannot name. My sister’s trailing her tongue / across our mother’s mirror”), and sex becomes violent (“the last time I slept in this bed/ I was involved in the serious business/ of ripping apart my own body.”) Peters writes not only about the cruelty of people, but about the cruelty of situations, whether a dysfunctional family, a broken relationship, or “a doorless house—a table set for none.”
In the Tiger Park
Alison Calder was the winner of the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers in 2004. In the Tiger Park is her second poetry collection after Wolf Tree (Coteau) which was published in 2007. Calder has mastered the art of saying a lot with few words, a practice she metafictionally refers to in her poem “The Space Between”: “If you think space is a blank, consider the prairie. / Every inch of it wears the imprint of workboots.” When she’s at her best, her poetry swings punches, and sometimes her lines have the power to knock the stuffing out of you. In the Tiger Park is both dense and spare, both witty and moving. It reminds us, with both sadness and practicality, of what was once there, what is, and what cannot be: “Scorched / words flake off like paint, / disappear into dirt.”
This week's Snapshots feature younger and emerging writers in honour of our Poetry Lives Here! campaign. The following books are three examples of the new and emerging voices in Canadian poetry today. While these three books are incredibly different from one another, they do have one thing in common: they are all wonderful (summer) reads. For even more summer reading suggestions, check out our new free poetry samples.
House of Anansi Press
Anne-Marie Turza has an MFA from the University of Victoria and was a finalist for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers in 2011. The Quiet is her first poetry collection and, despite its name, it's the kind of debut that refuses to go unheard. Like John Cage's 4'33'', The Quiet reveals the music in 'the quiet' and reminds us how full of sound silence really is. In Turza's book, 'the quiet' is represented by the lengthy white spaces on each page. They remind us, like the silence, to reflect on what has been and, more importantly, what has not been said. Beyond her beautiful use of language and her tranquil cadence, Turza proves herself to be a great writer through her poetic illustration of what it means to read between the lines. "The rain's blether grows louder, a gallop of hard consonants Levin feels he could understand, were it slower—" In a time of overwhelming noise and urgency, Turza focuses on life's offbeats, on the beauty in 'the quiet.'
Prologue for the Age of Consequence
House of Anansi Press
Garth Martens won the 2011 Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. He serves on the editorial board for The Malahat Review and works on a construction site in Kelowna, BC. His experience with machinery features prominently in his debut poetry collection Prologue for the Age of Consequence. While Martens' writing has many merits, one of the most engaging aspects of his poetry is his characters. As the men in northern Alberta construct a tower, Martens constructs their lives, piecing together their personalities, their flaws, interests, dreams, and disappointments, into an incredible collage of humanity. Martens' poems are dense, prose-y but inherently poetic. Like The Quiet they require careful contemplation and a detachment from the overwhelming noise of the everyday. "The wave, at large, engulfed them each with silence." In Prologue for the Age of Consequence, addiction, desire, and mythology all come together to show us that the things we worship are also often the things that can destroy us. But we continue to build what we can out of the materials we have at hand, as Martens does so magnificently with his words.
Nikki Reimer is a Calgary-based freelance writer and editor, creative writer, designer, artist and creative problem solver. Her first poetry collection ([sic]) was published by Frontenac House in 2010. Downverse is her second poetry book. Reimer's writing is comedic, current, and critical. In Downverse she uses all kinds of writing, from erasure poetry to a list of monthly expenses, to defamiliarize the language of new/ social media. The book, with all its noise, hashtags and commotion, is the exact opposite of Turza's The Quiet, although they are both fighting towards a similar poetic declaration. "we're post-post avant-avant. we are the new/ moderns. we.gain.weight.in.the______" Downverse is the guide to modern absurdity, where everyone is talking and no one is heard, and where poetry seems to be inseparable from commercialization.
This week's Snapshots feature younger and emerging writers in honour of our Poetry Lives Here! campaign. The following books are three examples of the new and emerging voices in Canadian poetry today. Each of these debut collections grab us with their unique use of language and show us the importance of writing and being heard.
Failure to Thrive
Suzannah Showler holds an MA in creative writing from the University of Toronto. She was the winner of the Matrix LitPOP Award for Poetry in 2012, and was a finalist for the 2013 Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. Her debut poetry collection Failure to Thrive began as her Master's thesis and evolved through her mentorships with writers such as Ken Babstock and Roesmary Sullivan. But the narrative voice in Failure to Thrive is entirely Showler's own, and it is a powerful one as well. Her navigation between the funny and the broken is both startling and captivating, and makes us wonder whether the two are more similar than we might think. Failure to Thrive promises to be the first of many strong books from Showler.
Coach House Books
Brecken Hancock's is Reviews Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine and Interviews Editor for Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. Broom Broom is her first book of poems and, like Showler, is sure to be one of many. The poems in Broom Broom are not only unlike other Canadian poetry, but they also have a uniqueness from one another. That is not to say that Hancock does not have a strong voice (because she does) but that she has a seemingly endless imagination. The poems in Broom Broom are painful, funny, devastating, and beautiful. They simply deserve to be read.
Steven Artelle has a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Western Ontario. In 2013, Angel House Press published his chapbook four hundred rabbits, an excerpt from a work in progress. Metropantheon is his first collection of poetry, and a great introduction to Artelle, if you haven't read him yet. Artelle makes Canadian poetry feel new with his raw and unique poetic voice which turns the everyday into the mythological with his precise imagination. Metropantheon's strong poems are right up there with, as he puts it, "all the arts that pierce the clouds."