Nov 26, 2014
This week we talk about three books with cool, calm winter covers and captivating, crisp poetics. (And no alliteration!)
Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something
Paul Vermeersch's fifth book of poetry, Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something, as ECW Press so finely puts it, "imagine[s] a post-apocalyptic literature built, or rebuilt, from the rubble of the texts that came before." Vermeersch's writing is a fascinating example of what 21st century poetry could be, should be, or already is. The poetry collection brings disparate ideas, texts, moments, and forms together and, in doing so, functions as a kind of poetic representation of social media and internet use. But Don't Let It is also deeply embedded in the offline world, in the rubble of the everyday, and Vermeersch never shies away from the humour in the darkness: "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, / I have travelled a little, / What's the difference."
The Stag Head Spoke
Wolsak and Wynn
The Stag Head Spoke is really tightly written and really complex to read. Within the pages, poet Erina Harris creates a whole new world of myth and folklore, playing between the labels with which we reviewers try to pin these texts. The Stag Head Spoke is both fantastical and metaphorical and yet it reflects something so familiar: "The woman walking toward outskirts of listening / In a direction of her / Departure at her back is a shrieking thing heard / Her, lessening / In her, remembering / Her is it to imagine / The woman in the alley sounding her barter walks with an other chorus / Of her steps in sounds her shrinking / In her Image," It is worth navigating through the labyrinths of Harris' poetry to find the meaning for yourself.
Goose Lane Editions
Stevie Howell's poetry collection ^^^^^ [Sharps] is upfront and unsentimental. The book takes its title from an Egyptian hieroglyph which is used interchangeably to represent “waters,” the letter N, and all prepositions within a sentence. Howell's poetry is all of the above: fluid and rhythmically dynamic like water, sharp like the points of the letter N, and as abrupt and biting as prepositions. As Howell explains in her interview with The Toronto Quarterly, ^^^^^ [Sharps] embraces the poignancy of the word "no." She resists fantasizing the ordinary, but she also denies the mundanity of the everyday. She says no to violence, but embraces it in her imagery: "You crush by moving, mulch / the recently fallen autumn leaves, snap branches, / snag open the tear in your jeans. / Your panting. / His panting. / It's a kind of transfusion."