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Poetry Canadian

The Inflatable Life

by (author) Mark Laba

Anvil Press Publishers
Initial publish date
May 2019
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2019
    List Price

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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.

About the author

Mark Laba grew up in Toronto, but has lived in Vancouver for nearly a decade. He is the author of a collaborative pork-noir novel with Stuart Ross called The Pig Sleeps (Contra Mundo Books, 1993), as well as the stunning sequence The Mack Bolan Poems (Gesture Press), which won the first bpNichol Chapbook Award in 1986. The food reviewer for The Vancouver Province, his column “Mark Laba’s Adventures in Dining” appears weekly. Laba has appeared regularly on TV and radio, as well as in urban travel guides, expounding on the delights of greasy-spoon restaurants and peeler-bar buffets. The Mercury Press is proud to present Laba’s book of poetry Dummy Spit.

Mark Laba's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Dizzying and dramatic, baffling and brilliant, Laba's sophomore collection will blow up your life." (Winnipeg Free Press)

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