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Accessing Poetry (by Jacob McArthur Mooney)

Jacob McArthur Mooney writes: Having been asked to get some poetry moving around Canadian Bookshelf, I struggled to think of an angle of approach. Poetry suffers, some would say, from an over-analytic abundance of angles. It is something of a serial self-describer, and gets qualified with words ranging from the concrete and uninformative (“Canadian poetry”) to the abstract and euphemistic (“women's poetry”). I've opted to try and steer clear of all that. I'm writing this to you smart, literate, idea-lovin' people who, despite your bookshelves fat with assorted fiction, non-fiction, and other ephemera, have yet to test the waters or poetry. Consider this an early reading list, one that challenges, engages, and doesn't pander. One that covers a lot of bases. Not all of them, surely, but a lot. I'm going to use a word here. It's something of a loaded word among poets. The word is “accessible”. I can feel many a pair of eyes rolling in their horn-rimmed glasses as I type this, from Parkdale to Commercial Drive and beyond. It's not an awful word, inherently. I've made a list of books that clearly want you to access them, though they may have highly varied means of requesting that access. They are singular, eccentric, books. They're not populist in the way the word accessible sometimes suggests. They want you to work for it, but are willing to make your effort worthwhile every step of the way. So I'll say it just one more time: accessible poetry. And then never again. Not in print, ever again, for the rest of my life.

by Kerry Clare · Tagged jacob mcarthur mooney, access, poetry