One of The Globe and Mail's Globe 100: Best Books of 2014
The fairground screamed. The mountains
and valley were gone. The fire was gone
too. The hanging ‘because’
was gone too. The men were away
and my heart already dead
and the fairground monkey dead in my mouth.
A spectre haunts a derelictNSA surveillance station on a hill in Berlin. Our posthumous selves cry to us from the Cloud. We’ve internalized the panopticon, but it still feels good to buy.
On Malice assembles evacuated forms, polysemy, undirected prayer and meta-chatter into a quartet of delirious song, a diorama of our new, totalized and ubiquitous armour. Channelling Spicer and Berryman, data-mining and inverting Hazlitt, Donne and Walter Benjamin’s son, these extended ghost-essays are lyric in their sonic and affective register but coldly methodological in their invented structures and repurposed illusions.
'Ken Babstock is a wonderful and spirited poet, his work is full of musicality, syncopation, wit, and formal acuity, it's all good.' – Peter Gizzi
'The flavor of this poetry is complex – it will have to be consumed in small amounts like a sipping tequila. It inebriates quickly. It imparts a convivial brilliance to life. Andit is not without its sinister edge.' – Ange Mlinko
‘[Babstock] has not only irrevocably altered our poetic climate but briskly evolved multiple new ecosystems in which his fellow songsters can work and flourish. In the wake of On Malice, I think we should prepare ourselves for a raft of source-text experiments and procedural treatises. Because as Canadian poets, it’s Babstock’s planet we’re walking on.’
Ken Babstock won Canada's inaugural Latner Writer's Trust Poetry Prize in 2014 for a body of work in mid-career. His fourth collection, Methodist Hatchet (Anansi, 2011), won The Griffin Prize for Excellence in Poetry and was a finalist for The Trillium Book Award. His previous collections of poetry include, Mean (1999), winner of the Atlantic Poetry Prize and the Milton Acorn People's Poet Award, Days into Flatspin (2001), winner of a K.M. Hunter Awardand finalist for the Winterset Prize, and Airstream Land Yacht (2006), finalist for The Griffin Prize for Poetry, The Governor General's Literary Award, and The Winterset Prize, and winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. His poems have won Gold at the National Magazine Awards, been widely anthologized in Canada, the UK, the US, and Ireland, most recently in The Oxford Anthology of Canadian Literature in English, and translated into Dutch, German, Serbo-Croatian, Czech, and French. All five previous titles were named Globe and Mail Top 100 Books of the Year. Recent poems have appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and in Best of The Best Of Canadian Poetry. A book length poem, On Malice, written while in Berlin as one of DAAD's International Artist Residents in 2011/12, was published in fall 2014 by Coach House Books to wide critical acclaim. Ken Babstock was born in Newfoundland and now lives in Toronto with his son.