Increasingly known as the “poet’s poet,” Governor General’s Award–winner Phil Hall has long been a constructor of intricate sequences, collecting and arranging lines and phrases, artifacts, and small revelations. He writes on influences, literary and local; he writes of rural Ontario, attempting to comprehend a deeply personal family violence; he stitches together lines and tall tales and fables from his life and the stories that float around the ethos of his variety of Ontario wilds. Hall’s isn’t a poetry carved into perfect diamond form but a poetry whittled from scores of found materials pulled apart and rearranged. This volume is not so much a “selected poems” as it is a reshuffle, a sampler from the span of Hall’s published work. Guthrie Clothing is a collage-selection by Hall. Lines, stanzas, and poem-fragments are reworked and patterned into a new sequence, a fresh structure.
The afterword consists of an important new essay-poem by Hall as well. It argues against irony from a rural perspective and amounts to Hall’s ars poetica. In an encompassing introduction, rob mclennan explores Hall’s four-plus decades of bricolage.