"The strength of this book is in its quick-change artistry, the sensation of flux that is continuous, and capable at any moment of erupting into epiphany or surprise." Roo Borson Across great distances and a panorama shaped by words, poets Douglas Barbour and Sheila Murphy began writing in collaboration. Tapped to technology's dance across paper, with thoughts like bright colours coursing across screens, Continuations emerged as the product of a new creator, a "third individual," who writes differently from either poet. Words shapeshifted and poets transformed, Continuations is an intriguing addition to the growing field of collaborative poetry in North American literature.
About the authors
Douglas Barbour is a professor in the Department of English, University of Alberta, where he teaches creative writing, modern poetry, Canadian Literature, and science fiction and fantasy. His critical books include studies of poets Daphne Marlatt, John Newlove, and bpNichol (all ECW Press 1992), and Michael Ondaatje (Twayne 1993). Volumes of poetry includeVisible Visions Selected Poems (NeWest Press 1984),Story for a Saskatchewan Night (rdcpress 1989),Fragmenting Body etc (NeWest Press 2000) and, most recently,Lyric/Antilyric (NeWest Press 2001).
Sheila E. Murphy's most recent book publications include Incessant Seeds (Pavement Saw Press, 2005), Proof of Silhouettes (Stride Press, 2004), and Concentricity (2004). She was awarded the Gertrude Stein Award for her Green Integer book titled Letters to Unfinished J. (2003). Murphy has made Phoenix, Arizona her home since 1976.
- Unknown, Alberta Book Awards - Book Cover Design of the Year
"Continuations is a collaboration between two accomplished poets that began in November 2000 with each poet '[c]omposing alternating six-line passages on a nearly daily basis.' Each of the book's 25 chapters contains between 18 and 23 of these six-line stanzas.. In Continuations, Barbour and Murphy have successfully forged a cohesive style with which to express their diverse interests and perspectives." Lydia Forssander-Song, Canadian Book Review Annual 2007
The jury awarded the prize to a book with a subtle, innovative cover concept that matched the intertwining texts presented within. The cover design is fresh, contemporary, clean and makes artful use of colour.
"Continuations is one part Rorschach test, one part word association, other parts dreams, symbols, seasons, colours, mother and father. Nouns are made verbs and words are borrowed from other languages and used as springboards for new words and images..The work is quite remarkable and evokes a response in the reader much like overhearing a conversation between two people who each speak a different language but who nevertheless understand each other perfectly, I often had the sense I was eavesdropping when reading Continuations." Wendy McGrath, the Edmonton Journal, August 27, 2006.
"Edmonton, Alberta poet Douglas Barbour and Phoenix, Arizona poet Sheila E. Murphy have been engaged in an email collaboration, writing alternating six line passages to make up their collaborative work Continuations. A long poem made out of twenty-five sections, the poem encompassed both daily activity, distance of years and thousands of kilometres (or miles, depending) in the form of a sustained long poem..." Thursday, June 22, 2006, www.robmclennan.blogspot.com
"It is all the more remarkable that given the distance that separates them, [the two poets] should have connected in such a way as to create a body of work that so masterfully balances each individual poet's prowess with the creation of a third, wholly new, speaking voice. Although Continuations is written in a fixed format of six-line stanzas, that is effectively where the physical structure ends. The language in the poems is allowed to bubble over, to take on an effervescent, joyous quality of its own....It is testament, I believe, to the skill of both writers that the third voice stays strong and true throughout the entire collection. It is a wry and deeply human voice, spurred from subject to subject by Barbour and Murphy's dynamic exchange of ideas, yet touching with unerring clarity on weighty subjects such as art and memory." Jenna Butler (Entire review at: http://poetryreviews.ca/2006/11/07/continuations-by-douglas-barbour-and-sheila-e-murphy/#more-80)
"Barbour and Murphy...have had a long-standing collaboration. I've seen some collaborations in poetry (meaning ones where the text is jointly composed and merged) fail utterly....But Barbour and Murphy seem to walk the tightrope amazingly well, the merging of their writing seems to sharpen their work instead, as would have been possible, diffusing it..." Simon DeDeo, August 2007. (See full review at http://rhubarbissusan.blogspot.com/2006/08/douglas-barbour-shelia-murphy-ix.html)
"The fluid tropes and the riffs on fate, choice, and flux go on for several stanzas and provide a nice example of how this quasi-improvisatory collaboration works at its best.... Here, then, the poetic method actually embodies the thematic questioning of fate and choice. The poem takes up many subjects, in fact, though one of the most frequent is the collaborative project itself, its capacity to question the possibility of univocal meaning, grand narratives, its capacity to model a certain ethical stance, a way of opening the self to the other, whether that other be a human interlocutor, the natural environment, a visionary experience, or the sheer materiality of words themselves." University of Toronto Quarterly, Winter 2008