In the pages of Gary Barwin's latest collection of poetry, No TV for Woodpeckers, the lines between haunting and hilarious, wondrous and weird, beautiful and beastly, are blurred in the most satisfying ways. No stranger to poetic experimentation, Barwin employs a range of techniques from the lyrical to the conceptual in order to explore loss, mortality, family, the self and our relationship to the natural world.
Many of these poems reveal a submerged reality full of forgotten, unknown or invisible life forms that surround us?that are us. Within this reality, Barwin explores the connection between bodies, language, culture and the environment. He reveals how we construct both self and reality through these relationships and also considers the human in relation to the concepts of "nature" and "the animal."
As philosophical as it is entertaining?weaving together threads of surrealism, ecopoetics, Dada and more?No TV for Woodpeckers is a complex and multi-layered work that offers an unexpected range of pleasures.
Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, multimedia artist and the author of twenty books of poetry, fiction and books for children. His recent books include Yiddish for Pirates and the poetry collection Moon Baboon Canoe. A PhD in music composition, Barwin has been Writer-in-Residence at Western University, the Toronto Public Library and several shelters/custody facilities with ArtForms' Writers in the House program for at-risk youth. Born in Northern Ireland to South African parents of Ashkenazi descent, Barwin moved to Canada as a child. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario.
"In its best pieces (including 'Grip,' 'In Memoriam,' the eerie 'Autopsy,' the intriguing 'Foot,' 'Gaspar' and a monologue called 'Alien Babies'), Barwin yokes his clowns to a serious chariot and arrives somewhere unique and utterly surprising." - The Globe and Mail
"Barwin's poems are struck through with a wide-eyed wonder, and when they aren?t revelling in the sound of language or crafting crazed imaginings, they work to dig out the strangeness of the everyday." - Winnipeg Free Press
"Again and again, Barwin shows us how charlatans, business interests, and technology come together to create cultural texts and interfaces that jam, compromise and contaminate our abilities to forge meaningful relationships with one another. But by worrying 'the empty spot' left by Ronnie Claire Edwards' death in the same way the speaker imagines his tongue will continually return to probe the socket of his soon to be extracted tooth, something transformative takes place. What Barwin commemorates in 'The Waltons, My Tooth, and the Oral Torah,' what he elegizes, is the elegiac mode itself, and by demonstrating what language can do, he allows us to feel, if only briefly, less lost, less lonely, and less alone." - Hamilton Review of Books