Including poetry projects, a chapbook and incidental poems previously published in magazines and by small presses, is a door makes use of the poem’s ability for “suddenness” to subvert closure: the sudden question, the sudden turn, the sudden opening—writing that is generated from linguistic mindfulness, improvisation, compositional problem-solving, collaborative events, travel, investigation and documentary—in short, poetry as practice.
Part one, “Isadora Blue,” is grounded in the author’s encounter with the smashed and broken doors along the hurricane-devastated waterfront of Telchac Puerto, a small village on the north coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. It resonates throughout the other three sections of the book, with its attention to hybridity and “between-ness”?a poetic investigation of racialized otherness—and the composition of “citizen” and “foreigner” through history and language.
Part two of this series of poems, “Ethnogy Journal,” written during a trip to Thailand and Laos in 1999, hinges around aspects of “tourist” and “native.” Here the poems play in the interstices of spectacle, food and social sightseeing.
Much of this poetry is framed by Wah’s acute sense of the marginalized non-urban local “place” and coloured by his attempt to articulate senses of otherness and resistance, or writing the “public self,” particularly in the book’s third section, “Discount Me In”?a series of sixteen poems from his discursive poetic essay “Count Me In.”
The fourth section, “Hinges,” is tinted with portraits of the social subject mired in a diasporic mix, a metanarrative trope in Fred Wah’s work that began with Breathin’ My Name With a Sigh.
Characteristically playful and compositionally musical, this is poetry that watches both sides of the doorway: unsettled, unpredictable, closed and open. Sometimes the door swings and can be kicked. Sometimes it’s simply missing. Sometimes it’s a sliding door.
About the author
Born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1939, celebrated Canadian poet Fred Wah was raised in the interior of British Columbia. He is the author of over 20 published works of poetry and prose-poetry, including the award-winning creative non-fiction Diamond Grill, the tenth anniversary edition of which was released in the fall of 2006. Other notable titles by Wah include his book of poetry Waiting For Saskatchewan (Turnstone Press), winner of a Governor General’s Award in 1985, and Faking it: Poetics and Hybridity, winner of the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Writing in Canadian literature. In 2008, he published a collection of poetic image/text projects titled Sentenced to Light (Talonbooks), and in 2010, he won the Dorothy Livesay BC Book Prize for poetry for is a door (Talonbooks).Fred Wah was one of the founding editors of the poetry journal TISH. After graduate work in literature and linguistics at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and the State University of New York in Buffalo, where he worked with Robert Creeley and Charles Olson, he returned to Canada. He has been involved in teaching internationally in poetry and poetics since the early 1960s. In 2011, Wah became Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate, the fifth poet to do so. In 2013, he was made an Officer in the Order of Canada. Fred Wah currently works and lives in Vancouver.
- Winner, BC Book Prize: Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
“These four sequences are what we once called trips, not so much to Mexico and Thailand and the Koots, as out of syntax toward a world in which words are things indeed, or at least are treated as such. You may feel as if you’ve had a stroke and are trying mightily to read right. Predicates can appear as if out of the dark. This is where Wah has been leading us, conscious as all get out, innocent as a lynx. This is what happens to a language when someone finally gets it away from the people it was named after.”
— George Bowering
Other titles by Fred Wah
Laurier Poetry Pack #5
Music at the Heart of Thinking
Laurier Poetry Pack #4
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
a poem as long as the river
The Collected Earlier Poems, 1962–1991
Toward. Some. Air.
Remarks on Poetics
Permissions: TISH Poetics 1963 Thereafter -
The False Laws of Narrative
The Poetry of Fred Wah
False Laws of Narrative, The
The Poetry of Fred Wah
Loki Is Buried at Smoky Creek