Mark Laba's second full-length poetry collection - and his first in seventeen years - recreates the structure of the old variety shows he watched on TV as a child. Much of the imagery plays across the broad spectrum of these popular cultural tropes, albeit many lost or forgotten in the vault of broadcast history. In The Inflatable Life, the reader will find a little singing, a little dancing, a little drama, a little comedy, a little experimentation, all rooted in a veritable grab-bag of far-ranging influences. Laba draws on everything from gritty pulp fiction to Borscht Belt humour, from dime-store ventriloquism to twelve-cent comic books (the long poem "Tolstoy's Leech Farm" is riddled with Laba's own comic drawings). He hurls these surprising and sometimes shocking vaudeville narratives from the peak of the Jewish Alps, and even his most extreme language experiments entertain. Some may call these surreal poems literary atrocities while others hail them as lyricism for an impossible century, but if Mark Laba didn't write these poems, no one else would.
Mark Laba is a Vancouver writer, blogger, and artist. Early poetry chapbooks include Movies in the Insect Temple (Proper Tales, 1981) and The Mack Bolan Poems (Gesture, 1985), winner of the bpNichol Chapbook Award. Mark co-wrote the novel The Pig Sleeps (Contra Mundo, 1993) with Stuart Ross. His first poetry book was Dummy Spit (Mercury, 2002) and he appeared in Surreal Estate: 13 Canadian Poets Under the Influence (Mercury, 2007). Mark's jobs have included watchmaker, anatomical model painter, stock and bond messenger, vertical-blind maker, scriptwriter for educational animations, and restaurant reviewer in the Province for a decade. The Inflatable Life is his second poetry book.