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Poetry Canadian

The False Laws of Narrative

The Poetry of Fred Wah

by (author) Fred Wah

edited by Louis Cabri

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2009
Canadian, Poetry, Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2009
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2011
    List Price

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The False Laws of Narrative is a selection of Fred Wah’s poems covering the poets entire poetic trajectory to date. A founding editor of Tish magazine, Wah was influenced by leading progressive and innovative poets of the 1960s and was at the forefront of the exploration of racial hybridity, multiculturalism, and transnational family roots in poetry. The selection emphasizes his innovative poetic range.

Wah is renowned as one of Canada’s finest and most complex lyric poets and has been lauded for the musicality of his verse. Louis Cabri’s introduction offers a paradigm for thinking about how sound is actually structured in Wah’s improvisatory poetry and offers fresh insights into Wah’s context and writing. In an afterword by the poet himself, Wah presents a dialogue between editor and poet on the key themes of the selected poems and reveals his abiding concerns as poet and thinker.

About the authors

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.

Fred Wah's profile page

Louis Cabri is author of The Mood Embosser, which was awarded the 2002 book of the year by Small Press Traffic (San Francisco), and â??that canâ??t (forthcoming). He edited, from Philadelphia, the poetsâ?? newsletter PhillyTalks and co-edited, from Ottawa/Calgary, hole magazine and books. He teaches literary theory, Canadian and US modern and contemporary poetry, and creative writing at the University of Windsor.

Fred Wah has been involved with a number of literary magazines over the years, such as Open Letter and West Coast Line. Recent books are the biofiction Diamond Grill (1996), Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity (2000), a collection of essays, and Sentenced to Light (2008), a collection of poetic image/text projects. He splits his time between the Kootenays in southeastern B.C. and Vancouver.

Louis Cabri's profile page

Excerpt: The False Laws of Narrative: The Poetry of Fred Wah (by (author) Fred Wah; edited by Louis Cabri)

The Poem Called Syntax by Fred Wah

We live on the edge of a lake called Echo.

I love this notion that noise makes itself,

so the lake holds all noise in its depths

and when the dog barks it gets it from the lake.

About nine thousand feet above these lakes (all lakes)

there is a geometry of sound, something like Plato's cave of noise.

It is from that construct the dog's bark takes shape,

a resounding of an earlier bark conditioned by the alpine.

History and physics. Acoustic paradigms in a bog of algae.

When I tell all my cousins and friends about this

they'll come to live on the shores of this lake and clean it up.

From the balconies of their summer homes they'll ask a lot of questions.

Editorial Reviews

''The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming.''

Canadian Literature, 193, Summer 2007

''Louis Cabri offers a marvelous map of Wah's concerns.... Fred Wah is a modernist with a difference; one hopes that they (and significant others) point us toward a future poetics of negotiated, rather than enforced, differences.''

Tinfish Editor's Blog

''Wah's attention to the local is meticulous. It is also very inventive.... Cabri's...critical work in False Laws provides a sophisticated, wide-ranging analysis of Wah's generic/theoretical concerns (the collage epic, the sound of language, hybrid identity) and his main historical influences (William Carlos Williams, the Black Mountain poets).... [A] well-edited collection and a solid step towards the wider circulation of Wah's poetry.''

matrix, #85

''It's about time...that someone came along to write a book such as this. And it's a pleasure to see it as part of the Laurier Poetry Series, which has achieved a standard of excellence that other institutions should be admiring and emulating.... The False Laws of Nature is an excellent selection of Wah's poetry from his earliest to his most recent. Cabri demonstrates not just an understanding of but a profound respect for Wah both as an individual and as a poet. Cabri has created the standard by which all others should be judged.''

Prairie Fire Review of Books, Volume 10, number 2, October 2010

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