Seven poets of diverse region, gender, sexual orientation, race, and generation. Seven poets linked by experiment and opposition. Robert Kroetsch discusses postmodernism's history, Fred Wah talks about ethnic hybridity, and Dionne Brand muses on postcolonial struggle and community. Erin Mouré encourages "excessiveness" while Daphne Marlatt speaks of "salvaging". On writing, poetics, and culture, Marie Annharte Baker and Jeff Derksen share their personal perspectives and experiences. Poets Talk brings new insights to the value of inspiration, imagination, and poetic re-invention.
"Reading Poets Talk is like overhearing an interesting conversation in a café: you eat up the discussion, but you also want to jump in and ask your own questions. The poets would be fascinating tablemates: diverse in terms of sexuality and race, they are united by how they understand language's relation to social power structures, and how they challenge the 'rules' of language to subvert or expose other, often implicit, social rules..[T]he collection usefully counters the popular image of the poet as a figure working in romantic isolation: the work of these writers is rooted in the social and continues to both reproduce and question that space." Alison Calder, Great Plains Quarterly, Summer 2006.
"This is a lively, thought-provoking, highly recommendable collection of interviews from the 1990s; presenting indeed 'seven of the most innovative and socially conscious poets writing today'. ... Fittingly, the book opens with Robert Kroetsch, whose great influence on (Western) Canadian writers echoes in some of the interviews. Kroetsch stresses his postcolonial 'dread of systems', the need 'to tell stories for my place or culture', the importance of comedy, postmodern and literary sub-genres for revalidating regional against official history. Six of the seven oncersations in Poets Talk were (co-)conducted by Pauline Butling, with impressive knowledge and subtlety; all interviews 'offer a forum on poetics' in contemporary Canadian poetry, focusing on, and going beyond race, gender, and other (hidden) agendas within a 'multicultural' society. An informative and inspiring read." Markus M. Muller, University of Trier, Germany, British Journal of Canadian Studies, 19.2
".Poets Talk has the courage of its convictions, and perhaps more importantly, its interviewers/editors have the curiosity to pursue the slippery matters of poetics and politics in Canadian literature. Asserting the volume 'addresses the challenges of reading "difficult" poetry,' Pauline Butling and Susan Rudy have produced a book that satisfies with its wide-ranging interest in all poetic concerns, not the least because as editors and interviewers they ask the questions that need to be asked about Canadian poetics and its future..By treating the poems as living texts and as canonical artifacts, Butling and Rudy do the poets the service of encouraging discussion about the material and cultural influences on the production of poetry in Canada." Tanis MacDonald, Canadian Literature, vol.190, Autumn 2006.
"Readers of these conversational interviews will want to explore the poetry and a bibliography of "Works Cited" will be most helpful for this purpose. The papers of Robert Kroetsch and Fred Wah can be found at the University of Calgary Archives, for inveterate researchers." Prairie Journal, Fall 2005
"The poets of Poets Talk's title.all share an interest in formal innovation and, to a lesser extent, in constructing a theory of poetics to inform their writing. They spend at least as much time, though, discussing how being part of a community, whether literary, political or both, has influenced their work. This makes a pleasant change from the emphasis on the individual writer...and also reveals, in passing, the genealogy of self-consciously innovative writing in Canada." Alex Rettie, AlbertaViews, April/May 2005
"Reading interviews, I often skip the questions and skim for juicy bits in the answers. Not so with Poets Talk. For Butling and Rudy are active participants, confronting these writers with their blind spots, or prodding and cajoling them into risky and marvelous territory." Meredith Quartermain, Terminal City (Complete review at http://www.interchange.ubc.ca/quarterm/reviews.htm) April 11, 2005
"In a landscape that seems to favour fewer and fewer reviews of Canadian poetry, poets talk is an impressive and essential collection of critical interviews with poets conducted by Butling, Lecturer Emeritus at The Alberta College of Art and Design, and Susan Rudy, Professor and Chair of the Department of English at the University of Calgary. Published as a companion to their anthology Writing in Our Time: Canada's Radical Poetries in English (1957-2003), forthcoming in March 2005 from Wilfrid Laurier University Press, the interviews are built over long processes of what makes their work work..More and more lately, the gap has been widening in Canadian poetry between those working the innovative poetic and those in the fixed idea, so a collection of interviews with seven poets with very little overlap, yet all working opposition and the innovative poetic, makes for an interesting read. Each interview begins with a short critical introduction of each of the poets; I think everyone should own this book." rob mclennan, blog, http://robmclennan.blogspot.com, March 11, 2005
"Author interviews have been an important element in Canadian literary criticism, no doubt because ours is a young literature in which the contemporary plays a substantial role..If you are interested in the authors being interviewed, these conversations are all of real value..[T]he up-to-date prefaces to these interviews serve as valuable introductions to the writers and both they and the interviews feature ample selections of poetry, enough to give readers unfamiliar with these writers a sense of what's at stake. As well, Butling and Rudy have brought together highly articulate writers-theoretically informed about the problematics and poetics of their craft-so their conversations are studded with interesting observations." Russell Brown, University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. 76, No. 1, Winter 2007
"[T]hese interviews are most definitely conversations in which the two interviewers bring a great deal of knowledge and understanding of both innovative poetry and the theories and ideologies that ground its varieties to bear..They are also highly entertaining, and offer readers a sense of the poets as people one would enjoy talking with. Poets Talk is a necessary conversation." Douglas Barbour, Canadian Book Review Annual, 2006