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."
This week’s poems are about the exploration of “place” in poetry. All three of these beautiful books point out the similarities between “worlds” and “words,” and create a place in poetry where our minds can reside. As Daphne Marlatt writes, “the web of language is its own web, but in its multiplicities it parallels those other myriad connections in which we also live.”
The Dreamland Theatre exists in a photograph of a white building on sledges being pulled through the mud from one location to another by a team of horses in Prince George (then Fort George) circa 1912. The poems in Dreamland Theatre (re)imagine place through the journey of imagination and the architecture of language. Rob Budde finds place in poetry (“there is this place: / a hut-shaped idea / just around that bend / in thinking”) and pulls his readers into that world of words—into the connectivity and disconnectivity of our “longing in language for / elsewhere and transformation into something / horrifically memorable, a sign of change, / a semantic shift / on the late news.” Samples from Rob Budde's Dreamland Theatre can be downloaded for free via our summer reading project.
Wilfred Laurier Poetry University Press
Rivering is a collection of Daphne Marlatt’s poetry selected and introduced by Susan Knutson. All of the poems speak to Marlatt’s poetics of place and of language as passage between distant or disparate human beings and between human beings and the more-than-human world. Rivering also includes a forward by Neil Besner and an afterword by Marlatt herself on the “Immediacies of Writing” where she addresses the “dualism between [her] woman’s body and then-inherited place in the world, and a male engendered poetic and grasp of that world.” She navigates these worlds through her words and creates a “sense of history as missed story, shadowing place.”
In Peeling Rambutan Gillian Sze reflects upon the familiarity of her childhood home in Winnipeg in contrast to the distance of her parents’ origins in Asia. Sze examines history through its simultaneous independence and dependence on the present, creating a duality of place and belonging. Sze uses language to landscape a world both old and new, where memory and discovery are interrelated and the past and the present find their place in poetry.