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Poetry Canadian


by (author) Dennis Cooley

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2014
Canadian, History
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2014
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2014
    List Price

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would you believe me when i make consorts of alphabet runaways & stayathomes i have rounded up where they wandered all over the page Dennis Cooley masterfully extends the genre of the abecedary to explore his curiosity of the limitlessness of human communication. With linguistic wit and complexity, his poetry carries the reader through the historical developments of the alphabet. He pries open letters and words to play with both their immediate meaning and the possibilities within the words themselves, creating surprises as he explores spelling, sound, syntax, and pronunciation. After reading Cooley's abecedarium you'll never look at language the same way. Lovers of experimental poetry as well as those interested in linguistic play or the history of language will relish the rapid-fire shifts and musicality of Cooley's newest collection of poetry.

About the author

Dennis Cooley grew up in Estevan, Saskatchewan, and attended the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Rochester. He is an active member of the writing community in Winnipeg and teaches at St. John’s College, University of Manitoba. His latest book of poetry is the bentleys (2006).

Nicole Markotić is a poet and critic who teaches at the University of Windsor and edits the chapbook publication Wrinkle Press. She has published two poetry books, Connect the Dots and Minotaurs & Other Alphabets, as well as a fictional biography of Alexander Graham Bell, Yellow Pages. She is currently completing a novel.

Dennis Cooley's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"All writers love language--it's a basic job requirement--but few writers adore the alphabet as much as Winnipeg experimental poet Dennis Cooley.... abecedarium is a convincing challenge to the notion that poetry must be 'difficult' or unpleasant to be relevant. Rather, embracing all that is playful and fun about language, Cooley shows that such poetry can be at its most incisive."

Alberta Views

# 4 on the Winnipeg Bestsellers list (Paperback Fiction) for the week of June 8, 2014

"Cooley’s latest collection invites us down to, and then past, the level of alphabet to shred and rebuild meaning from the smallest elements of language. He often does so using humour, sometimes through poetic-historical essays on pivotal moments in the evolution of language and script, and always with a sense of adventure.... In abecedarium, he continues to discuss language in an engaging and exciting way.... He brilliantly conveys and samples these elements—from miniscule, single sounds to sweeping philosophies of language—that together lead to the varied sound and shared meanings that keep language interesting, and that make it work.... To Cooley’s great credit, he adeptly plays to the linguistic elite while still offering something deeply interesting, thought-provoking and even fun to readers less interested in the backstory than the reward." Accessed May 21, 2015 [Full review at]

ARC Poetry Magazine

"Winnipeg poet, editor and critic Dennis Cooley’s new poetry collection, abecedarium is an expansive play of puns and train-of-thought sound play constructed through an exploration of a variety of subjects, including the history of the alphabet, references to the works of writers such as Robert Kroetsch, George Bowering and Andrew Suknaski, prairie histories, crows and what the ear hears, and poems that simply appear to propel narratively through and against the sounds of the words themselves.... This is Cooley at smart and serious joyful play, pure and simple, bringing the weight of years of reading, listening, research and knowledge to every motion."

"Writing his way down to basic elements, Cooley writes through the development of language and writing, various ancient histories, books and writers he has read and admired over the years and prairie landscapes, blending them together in an abecedarium that works to explore the very idea of communication: written, spoken and archival. This is Cooley at smart and serious joyful play, pure and simple, bringing the weight of years of reading, listening, research and knowledge to every motion.", accessed May 26, 2014

"In recalling its titular genre’s function as exercise book and devotional text, abecedarium at once invokes conceptual writing and remains anchored in the prairie language poetry tradition in which Cooley has been at home for decades." Canadian Literature 226 (Autumn 2015) [Full review at:]

Literature 226

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