Jul 23, 2014
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.”