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Poetry Canadian

Rank Songbirds

by (author) Leon Rooke

Porcupine's Quill
Initial publish date
Mar 2022
Canadian, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2022
    List Price

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Leon Rooke's Rank Songbirds delves into dramatic and intense relationships, politics and the quirks of society, celebrating humanity's resilience in spite of-or perhaps because of-its flaws.

About the author

An energetic and prolific storyteller, Leon Rooke's writing is characterized by inventive language, experimental form and an extreme range of characters with distinctive voices. He has written a number of plays for radio and stage and produced numerous collections of short stories. It is his novels, however, that have received the most critical acclaim. Fat Woman (1980) was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award and won the Paperback Novel of the Year Award. Shakespeare's Dog won the Governor General's Award in 1983. As a play, Shakespeare's Dog has toured as far afield as Barcelona and Edinburgh. A Good Baby was made into a feature film. Rooke founded the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 1989. In 2007, Rooke was made a member of the Order of Canada. Other awards include the Canada/Australia prize, the W O Mitchell Award, the North Carolina Award for Literature and two ReLits (for short fiction and poetry). In 2012, he was the winner of the Gloria Vanderbilt Carter V Cooper Fiction Award. Recently, Rooke's works The Fall of Gravity and Shakespeare's Dog were produced in new editions for France and Italy, two countries where his work has been greatly admired.

Leon Rooke's profile page

Excerpt: Rank Songbirds (by (author) Leon Rooke)


My beloved cannot, may not, will not execute
The unworthy act hold
Her pretty feet to the fire set
Entire cities ablaze prod
Her with the ironmonger's hot poker,
Withhold lemonade, shout a vigilante's heated threat
She will in no way tolerate the unworthy act though thieves waylay her,
Waters be shaken by hurricane,
Collapse of the very streets on which her feet set down.

Here, she says, hold my hand
Say me no platitudes
Lower no empty bucket
Into my well
Simultaneously don't be suckered by a girl's soft speech flush
Of rosy cheek flash
Of leeward limb
The bonny disposition of starlets on parade look:
Me once a mere old-fashioned girl faint of heart, grace, and intellect see
How pigeon-toed and halting my every step, an imbecile child stirred
To tearful disarray by any shadow haunting floor or wall an unkind word
Found the woman you are said to love shivering
Through night's repast Fathom me
Now chewing to the bone
These very fingernails, my ratcheting sobs was
That only yesterday?

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