Aug 8, 2017
August’s snapshots are brought to you from the dreamy/dreary recesses of the minds of three female poets, where the universal questions live.
According to the all-knowing Google Dictionary, to “maunder” is to “talk in a rambling manner,” or to “move or act in a dreamy or idle manner.” These seemingly contradictory definitions come to a head in Claire Kelly’s eclectic collection, Maunder, which seems to be fixated on movement and the intention (or lack thereof) behind it, “stillness promising action.” Kelly uses the backdrop of an industrial city to frame these poems, studying what does – and does not – happen there, “how / daily drama is avoided, with the monotonous / tick-tick-tick of a turn signal.” Each poem is a portrait of browns and greys, like “a cigarette- / pack lung,” but with harsh accents of colour: “acid-reflux / green,” “bubblegum / not yet trodden on,” and “anything that clashes.” She juxtaposes lights and darks, crafting a book that is “Half the ghost of Marley / jangling and clanking, / half When a bell rings, / an angel gets its wings;” Yin and Yang at its most apt.
University of Alberta Press
In Little Wildheart’s very first poem, Micheline Maylor establishes an understanding with the reader that what’s to come is irrelevant, telling us we’re running “daily toward [our] own cremation.” But we read on anyway, because there’s “purification in it.” Maylor doesn’t shy away from the “big” ideas here, the ones we’re taught to avoid in our writing for fear of being *shiver* ambiguous: history and mortality, origins and endings, the immeasurability of time, space, and citizenship. It feels as though the speaker is sitting on a cloud above us, narrating the confusing bits of life with eloquence and intelligence. And at the same time, she is astutely aware of her own shortcomings, resulting in a humorously unfaltering honesty. For instance: “I want to love you all. But I dislike Stephen Harper,” or, “My fortune cookie says, make friends / with a man with a horse. I wish it said, hung like.” The clever use of rhyme and villanelle-like form throughout the collection lends a spattering of auditory colour to an already vibrant cadence. Little Wildheart is a collection that wants to have a simple conversation with its readers about some very complicated ideas and, somehow, it works.
Rag Cosmology is not a collection you read for the narrative, it is a collection you read for the language, the individual fragments of image and revelation. Erin Robinsong, an “Ecopoet,” has re-imagined the entire universe in her debut collection. No, really. In this collection, there are blacked out pages, there are photographs from 1993, there are single lines on a page, there are letters scattered haphazardly, there are “swimming vaginas with eyes on earth.” At times, she seems to emulate the rhythm and form of B.P. Nichol, and at other times, she is reminiscent of nothing but her own unique voice. In the section called “Polygon,” Robinsong takes advantage of homonyms and the space on the page, stripping the poems down to their rawest poetic (and sometimes nonsensical) devices in a way that I can’t justifiably translate into this “Snapshot” form. You’ll have to read it yourself.