Aug 21, 2018
The August edition of Snapshots is written by Ariel Beynon and celebrates diversity, deviations in structure and mode of telling.
Book of Annotations
Cameron Anstee’s debut collection of poetry Book of Annotations takes the reader on a journey of discovery with work that switches between the “sensuous, natural, familiar, unexpected [and elusive].” Each piece is one thread in a diverse tapestry of the different aspects of life, moments of need—“I believe you when you say / I don’t know what I’ll do if—,” and moments of interaction—when “the cat sniffs the length of my arm.” There is fearlessness to explore the common while simultaneously considering the sublime. The way the poetry is structured also metamorphosizes throughout the collection. There is an excitement that comes from not knowing what the next page will look like—how the stanzas, how the lines, how each word will be spaced. The true enjoyment, however, comes from appreciation of how the diversity of the structure ties into the diversity of the subject matter; the structure reflects the theme in each different narrative that Anstee takes the reader on—a trip well worth taking.
Wolsak and Wynn
David James Brock’s poetry collection Ten-Headed Alien straddles poetry and science fiction in a way that integrates both of these literary conventions seamlessly. There is a sustained narrative that runs throughout—the arrival of a monster and the simultaneous breakdown of human society—tropes common to those familiar with the genre of science fiction. The medium of poetry, however, allows for the narrative to be told in a new and exciting way—each one a short glimpse into a different viewpoint from someone in this new world order, whether it be a woman with the head of a fish in Parkland or one of the heads from the ten-headed alien. Vivid imagery and remnants—:“The Once Popular Sci-Fi Music Genre (Recording Found),” “Artefact Carved in the Bark of Garry the Glass Tree (Undiscovered),” and “Skeletal Remains at the Bottom of Former Fishtail Lake (Discovered)”—provide backdrops and flesh out the world even more, allowing for further immersion. This new vehicle for telling doesn’t hamper the mode or the flow; instead, it allows for a greater concentration of varied ideas and ruminations on “human failure, vulnerability and hubris.” For those looking for something off the beaten track, David James Brock’s collection is the perfect springboard for exploration, whether it be a light reading or a more in-depth examination.
What If Zen Gardens...
In his collection What If Zen Gardens…, Henry Beissel invites the reader to take in a spectra of images ranging from more traditional subjects of reflection, to sections of thought, to a linear exploration of the four seasons. Accompanying the poetry is a collection of illustrations by Arlette Francière, which further enhances the reflective nature of Beissel’s words. Writing in an ancient poetic structure that creates restraints when it comes to visual structure and length, Beissel is able to create in exactly seventeen syllables—no more, no less—images that stick with you; read through it too quickly and you miss out on this. The firm structure and brevity doesn’t create a sense of disconnectivity; each poem is one piece in a puzzle. In a world where time has become something of an obsession, the reader is given the chance to slow down and enjoy each haiku individually or as a part of a greater whole, to revel in the beauty of words, in “violets—blue chips / scattered from heaven. Summer’s heralds on the ground,” to be drawn in by the first line and want more when the third and final line comes around.