Aug 20, 2014
This week's Snapshots feature a wide array of poetry. For those of you who don't know which poet to read next, the following collections will either be your saving grace or your worst nightmare. But don't get weighed down; let these voices wash over you and drift off with all of their poetic possibilities. There is something here for everyone.
The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology 2014
House of Anansi Press
This anthology provides a sampling of poetry from the 2014 shortlists for The Griffin Poetry Prize. The Griffin Poetry Prize is awarded each year to the most outstanding volumes of poetry (published both internationally and in Canada) and recognizes works written in English as well as translations. This year's anthology features international writers such as Rachael Boast, Brenda Hillman, Carl Phillips and Tomasz Różycki, as well as Canadian writers Anne Carson, Sue Goyette and Anne Michaels. Before each poetry sample, editor Robert Bringhurst has included the judges' citations as an introduction. The anthology is a wonderful read if you don't know which Griffin Prize finalist to start with, but unfortunately many of the shortlisted collections lose power in being removed from their original context. Robert Bringhurst brings up this issue in his introduction, but the question remains open to the reader: is this something worth anthologizing or is it better to read the books independent from one another?
Theseus: A Collaboration
Unlike The Griffin Poetry Prize 2014 Anthology and Force Field, Theseus is not an anthology, however it does feature the voices of more than one writer. Theseus tells a story through its creation as well as its narrative. Writing began in the autumn of 1966 and it took bpNichol and Wayne Clifford more than twenty years to write the first two parts of the work. It wasn't completed until after Nichol's death, when Clifford added Part Three using elements of Nichol's Martyrology, as a means of tribute, eulogy, acceptance and lie. It's a fascinating read, in the way the two voices play off each other and how it allows Nichol's writing to live on beyond him: "voice doubled,/ a man & a woman/ speaking years apart/ We speak her speaking of his heart."
Force Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia
Force Field introduces itself as the first anthology of BC women poets in 34 years. It features four poems from seventy-seven different women poets who currently live and write in British Columbia. Each poet is introduced with a photo and a bio which offers some context for the readers. Edited by British Columbian poet and children's writer Susan Musgrave, the anthology does a wonderful job of providing readers with an easily accessible sampling of writing by BC women. By bringing these poets together like this, one can only hope that Musgrave is making their work more accessible and recognizable to the world. However, as Heather Jessup asks in her review for The Malahat Review, does classifying poetry as "women's poetry" make us more aware of women or does it further the gender divide?
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