Most Anticipated: Spring 2015 Poetry Preview

Best Canadian Poetry 2014

Okay, it's January, and it's freezing (at least where I am), but we're looking ahead and we're calling it spring. All month long, we've been highlighting the books we're excited about that are coming out this spring: see our kids' books, fiction and non-fiction previews so far. Last, and far from least, is our poetry list, which gives us so much to look forward to. 

*****

It's a new year, but let's not forget the old one yet. The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2014, edited by Molly Peacock and Sonnet L'Abbé, is out now, and it's beautiful. Un/inhabited (January), by Jordan Abel, who won last year's Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for The Place of Scraps, questions the use of politically or racially charged language in 91 pulp western novels found on Project GutenbergThe Tongues of Earth (April) brings together the best of Mark Abley's poems from the 1980s to the present and includes about 20 new poems. In Madhur Anand's debut collection, A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes (April), the poet illuminates and celebrates the intersection of poetry and science and the ways they can mediate our discovery of the world and our place in it. And Limbinal (April) is a new collection by Oana Avasilichioaei, where "linguistic limbs fold and migrate, a distant border politicks and trips over the horizon, a river overflows, floods, palimpsests another river, Arendt’s responsibility touches Deleuze’s fold, the body, changeable, restless, searches for resonances."

Endangered Hydrocarbons (April), Lesley Battler's first full-length collection of poetry, shows that the language of hydrocarbon extraction, with its blend of sexual imagery, archetype, science, pseudoscience and the purely speculative, can be as addictive as the resource it pursues. nakamowin’sa for the seasons (March), by Rita Bouvier, is a response to the highs and lows of life and represents an attempt at restoring order through embracing others, reconciling the traumas caused by the deep scars of history, and soaring beyond life's awkward and painful moments in order to live joyfully. In her debut collection, Rue (May), which was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award, Melissa Bull explores the familial, romantic, and sexual ties that bind lives to cities. Colin Browne’s new collection, The Hatch (April), extends his formal engagement with the margins of the new documentary.

Beginning with the arrival of the Campbell clan in Canada in 1827, "pale scot farmers fording the river, / seated backwards in refusal," Laws & Locks (April), by Chad Campbell, tracks the history of one family's struggle with depression, madness and mental illness. Toronto author Chris Chambers' new collection is Thrillows and Despairos (April). Inspired by a real-life encounter with a homeless man, award-winning playwright Ins Choi (Kim's Convenience) has originated an astounding work of artistry and imagination in the spoken-word poems and songs that make up Subway Stations of the Cross (March). In his latest book, A Serious Call (February), Don Coles brings to life a series of everyday moments, objects, and relationships in a touching reflection on the passage of time and the power of memory. And Monologue Dogs (April), by Méira Cook, promises to be a dazzling collection of dramatic monologues from this Manitoba Book of the Year and Walrus Poetry Prize-winning author.

The poems in The Wrong Cat (March) are vintage Lorna Crozier: sly, sexy, irreverent, and sad, and populated by fully realized characters whose stories take place in a small lyrical space. Saskatchewan poet Robert Currie's latest collection is The Days Run Away (April). Terra Incognita (April), by Adebe DeRango-Adem, titled after the Latin term for "unknown land"—a cartographical expression referring to regions that have not yet been mapped or documented—creatively explores various racial discourses and interracial crossings both buried in the grand narratives of history and the everyday experiences of being mixed-race. Antony Di Nardo's third collection, Roaming Charges (February), occupies the air between Canada and Lebanon, viewer and painting, victim and triggerman, reader and page. 

The Pemmican Eaters (April), by Marilyn Dumont, is a picture of the Riel Resistance from one of Canada’s preeminent Métis poets. their biography: an organism of relationships (April), by kevin mcpherson eckhoff, a collaborative memoir, collages together word-portraits from friends, family, coworkers, strangers, robots, and even adversaries in order to create a silhouette of not a single person, but of the manacles that connect people to one another. Raoul Fernandes, previously a finalist for the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, releases his debut, Transmitter and Receiver (March). In Do Not Enter My Soul in Your Shoes (May), Natasha Kanapé Fontaine reveals herself as a poet and Innu woman. And Dancing on a Pin (May) is the eighth collection by Katerina Vaughan Fretwell.

Catullus' Soldiers (April), Daniel Goodwin's first poetry collection, takes aim at traditional dichotomies: love and war, the personal and the public, high culture and pop culture, the ancient and modern worlds. Amid a fictional marriage in a state of malaise and a real world on the edge of environmental disaster, Naomi Guttman lays open moments of vexation and tenderness, of grief, guilt, betrayal and love in The Banquet of Donny and Ari: Scenes from the Opera (March). The Collected Poems of William Hawkins collects published and unpublished work by Ottawa poet Hawkins. In Hillsdale Book (April), a new collection by the two-time winner of the Saskatchewan Book Award for Poetry, Gerald Hill fuses verse, prose, history, photography, and his own life's story to create a uniquely personal document of mid-century life in Regina's suburbs. In the canon of contemporary feminist and lesbian poetry, For Your Own Good (February), by Leah Horlick, breaks silence with poems that illustrate the narrator's survival of a domestic and sexual violence in a lesbian relationship.

The poems in Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent (April), by Liz Howard, are reflective of states of doubleness: of the poet being of both European and Indigenous ancestry, of being formed by a staggeringly wild landscape and then residing in a city, of striving for certainty and exactitude through science and ultimately embracing the expansive potential of poetry. Jake Kennedy's Merz Structure No. 2 Burnt by Children at Play (April) is a collection of experimental poetry that explores the dynamic, if often unsettling, relationship between making and unmaking, bliss and pain, utterance and silence. In her debut collection, page as bone ink as blood (April), Joanna Kirton adds her voice to the call for the kind of fierce honesty referred to by Muriel Rukeyser when she asked, "What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open." And the poems in Average Height of Flight (February), by Beth Kope, are founded in the landscape of coastal BC, built on the losses within the narrator's life in counterpoint to her walks in the natural world.

Crossover (April), by M. Travis Lane, her 15th collection, is a continuation of one poet's exploration of the world and of her inner world, shared with us in the conviction that the spaces we inhabit overlap and connect. Moving from the absurdity of the First World War to the chaos of today's cities, where men share beds, bottles of ouzo, and shade from willow trees, the poems in Ben Ladouceur's Otter (June) ask questions: If your lover speaks in his sleep, how do you know "you" is you? Can you wake him to move his arm? What if you think of the perfect comeback to a six-year-old argument? And in his second collection of poems, Safely Home Pacific Western (March), Jeff Latosik looks to those provisional moments of arrival and anchoring in what Canadian poet Don Coles has called "the catastrophe of time."

The second trade collection by Ottawa poet N.W. Lea, Understander (April) continues his investigations of langugage, discourse, and irony through the short lyric. Hacker Packer (April), is a playfully inventive and invigorating debut collection from Cassidy McFadzean, a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize and the Walrus Poetry Prize. Taking as its source text Barack Obama's campaign speech from March 18, 2008, A More Perfect [, by Jimmy McInnes, acts as a poetic translation of the rhetorical devices often used in political speeches. Amber MacMillan's debut collection is We Can’t Ever Do This Again (April). It's always an event when David McGimpsey has a new book out; his latest is Asbestos Heights (April), which serves up his trademark sideswiping of formal rhetoric with pop-culture verve. Montreal Before Spring (March), by the award-winning Robert Melançon, has been translated into English by Donald McGrath.

Sequence (April) is the latest collection from Griffin Poetry Prize-winning poet, A. F. Moritz. In Kapusta (April), by Erín Moure, the poet performs silence on the page and aloud, writing "gesture" and "voice" to explore the relation between responsibility and place, body, and memory, sorrow and sonority. The poems in Get Me Out of Here (April), by Sachiko Murakami, written in response to her open call on the Internet, search airport departures and arrivals for a handhold on the fleeting present. Shane Neilson's latest collection of poetry, On Shaving Off His Face (March), draws on the image of the human face to explore themes of pain, grief and illness both physical and mental. Peter Norman's The Gun That Starts the Race (March), alternately like a David Lynch film or an episode of The Simpsons, promises to find the uncanny in the everyday, surprise you, make you laugh and weep (sometimes simultaneously) with recognition at the fleeting spark of our existence.

Widely praised for her engagement and attention to craft, Elise Partridge's The Exiles' Gallery (April) confirms her standing as one of the most thoughtful, authentic voices in Canadian poetry. Realignment (April), by Ruth Roach Pierson, is an extended meditation on the human condition, shifting perspective from poem to poem to embody a variety of cultural milieus. the pet radish, shrunken (March), the third full collection of poetry from Pearl Pirie, deals in the poetics of sound, language, and play. And Dear Leader by Damian Rogers (April), previously a nominee for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, examines the seductive loops of paranoia and longing, disordered thinking, and the pursuit of power.

Whether describing an elephant's death at the zoo or a sibling road trip, the wide-ranging and visceral poems in Elizabeth Ross's Kingdom (May) explore identity, love, family bonds, and our primal link with the natural world. Stephen Rowe’s Geo•logics (March)—his highly anticipated follow-up to Never More There—binds the impermanent to the permanent. St Kilda is a barren, rocky archipelago 100 miles off the west coast of Scotland. In 1930, harsh conditions led the islands' remaining 36 inhabitants to relocate to the mainland. Left behind were seabirds and a population of feral sheep. In Leaving the Island (April), her first poetry collection, Talya Rubin enters the isolated lives of those last Kildareans, and probes the "desert places"—to use Frost's phrase—in herself.

The Thunderbird Poems (May), by Armand Garnet Ruffo, takes its inspiration from the art and life of the acclaimed Ojibway artist Norval Morrisseau. In My Shoes are Killing Me (March), poet Robyn Sarah reflects on the passing of time, the fleetingness of dreams, and the bittersweet pleasure of thinking on the "hazardous ... treasurehouse" that is the past. Cut-up Apologetic (April), Jamie Sharpe’s second collection, explores aging in a world where youth is terrible and something we desperately want back. Hastings-Sunrise (March), Bren Simmers's second collection, captures her old East Vancouver neighbourhood in the midst of upheaval. Karen Solie's first collection since her Griffin Poetry Prize-winning Pigeon is The Road In Is Not the Same Road Out (April). And the latest by acclaimed poet Carolyn Marie Souaid is This World We Invented (May), whose world is both an act of the imagination and a responsibility.

Kevin Spenst's much-anticipated debut collection, Jabbering With Bing Bong (May) opens as a coming-of-age narrative of lower-middle class life in Vancouver's suburb of Surrey, embroidered within a myriad of pop-culture and "post-Mennonite." Fred Wah comments that the poems in Foreign Park (May), by Jeff Steudel, "shimmer in their aliveness." Trio (April), by Sarah Tolmie, is a collection of 120 sonnets in eight parts that reveals, frame by frame, a married fortysomething female narrator in love with two younger men—an intellectual and a dancer—and torn between the claims of body and mind. The latest by John Wall Barger, whose previous book was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award, is The Book of Festus (May). In her debut collection, Still No Word (March), Shannon Webb-Campbell charts themes such as Aboriginal ancestry, loss, grief, longing, and love. Nimbly slipping between personae, masks, and moods, the prosody-driven poems of Sum (March), by Zachariah Wells, weigh the volatility and mutability of the self against the forces of habit, instinct and urge. The Bodies and Other Political Poems (April), by Calvin White, explores our wars, our crimes, our relationships to others, the chronicling of our deeper selves. Tablature (January), Bruce Whiteman's first book of poems in traditional lined form in 30 years, is by turns learned and allusive, and emotionally expressive and despairing. And the poems in Rita Wong's new collection, Undercurrent (April), emerge from the Downstream project, a creative collaboration that highlights the importance of art in understanding and addressing the cultural and political issues related to water.

January 26, 2015
comments powered by Disqus

X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...