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Laurier Poetry Series
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Laurier Poetry Series

By clarehitchens
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tagged: poetry, canlit
Slim volumes of poetry from Canadian poets with a critical introduction and an afterword by the poet (if living).
Before the First Word

Before the First Word

The Poetry of Lorna Crozier
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : canadian, literary

Lorna Crozier’s radical imagination, and the finely tuned emotional intelligence that is revealed in the clarity of her poetry, have made her one of Canada’s most popular poets. Before the First Word: The Poetry of Lorna Crozier is a collection of thirty-five of her best poems, selected and introduced by Catherine Hunter, and includes an afterword by Crozier herself. Representing her work from 1985 to 2002, the collection reveals the wide range of Lorna Crozier’s voice in its most lyrical, …

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Excerpt

What the Snake Brings to the World by Lorna Crozier

Without the snake

there'd be no letter S

No forked tongue and toil,

no pain and no sin. No wonder

the snake's without shoulders.

What could bear such a weight!

The snake's responsible for everything

that slides and hisses, that moves

without feet or legs. The wind for example.

The sea in its long sweeps to shore and out again.

The snake has done some good, then.

Even sin to the ordinary man

brings its pleasures. And without

the letter S traced belly-wise

outside the gates of Eden

we'd have to live

with the singular of everything:

sparrow, ear, heartbeat,

mercy, truth.

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All These Roads

All These Roads

The Poetry of Louis Dudek
by Louis Dudek
edited by Karis Shearer
afterword by Frank Davey
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : canadian, literary

A passionate believer in the power of art—and especially poetry—to influence and critique contemporary culture, Louis Dudek devoted much of his life to shaping the Canadian literary scene through his meditative and experimental poems as well as his work in publishing and teaching. All These Roads: The Poetry of Louis Dudek brings together thirty-five of Dudek’s poems written over the course of his sixty-year career.

Much of Dudek’s poetry is about the practice of art, with comment on the …

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Excerpt

For William Carlos Williams by Louis Dudek

You want your truths told of you—

those wavery lines!

Each pencil mark's a fiddlehead

unfolding to an island of wild fern,

O hell, did you have to do it

now, Bill

when we were just getting

the whiplash of your New Measure, crack

of the words in the sun, over the woman eating

plums, over the burning greens?

When we were getting the hang of it, to your glory,

and bringing the baskets home,

stuff you planted in your Earlier and Later

Collected Poems

praising the world

and talking to the cabman

about “Pound and economics” so many beginnings

Those forceps, stethoscopes (the way to their hearts)

and medical books you could never keep up with

—thrown away, finished?

Isn't it (death) stupid? That all a man is,

those immediate moments

you tried to cling to, should be thought “ephemeral”?

Death is a liar, Bill Williams Don't think for a minute

that we believe him It's all the same

It's as you said, every minute of it, here, now, real and forever.

 

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Blues and Bliss

Blues and Bliss

The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Blues singer, preacher, cultural critic, exile, Africadian, high modernist, spoken word artist, Canadian poet—these are but some of the voices of George Elliott Clarke. In a selection of Clarke’s best work from his early poetry to his most recent, Blues and Bliss: The Poetry of George Elliott Clarke offers readers an impressive cross-section of those voices. Jon Paul Fiorentino’s introduction focuses on this polyphony, his influences—Derek Walcott, Amiri Baraka, and the canon of literary …

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Excerpt

Africadian Experience by George Elliott Clarke

(For Frederick Ward)

To howl in the night because of smoked rum wounding the heart;

To be so stubbornly crooked, your alphabet develops rickets;

To check into the Sally Ann—and come out brain-dead, but spiffy;

To smell the sewer anger of politicians washed up by dirty votes;

To feel your skin burning under vampire kisses meant for someone else;

To trash the ballyhooed verses of the original, A-1, Africville poets;

To carry the Atlantic into Montreal in epic suitcases with Harlem accents;

To segregate black and white bones at the behest of discriminating worms;

To mix voodoo alcohol and explosive loneliness in unsafe bars;

To case the Louvre with raw, North Preston gluttony in your eyes;

To let vitamin deficiencies cripple beauty queens in their beds;

To dream of Halifax and its collapsing houses of 1917

(Blizzard and fire in ten thousand living rooms in one day);

To stagger a dirt road that leads to an exploded piano and bad sermons;

To plumb a well that taps rice wine springing up from China;

To okay the miracle of a split length of wood supporting a clothesline;

To cakewalk into prison as if you were parading into Heaven;

To recognize Beauty when you see it and to not be afraid.

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By Word of Mouth

By Word of Mouth

The Poetry of Dennis Cooley
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : canadian, literary

Dennis Cooley, one of Canada’s most prominent poets, says writing becomes political when you play with certain kinds of voices. His poetry has been influenced and inspired by the prairies and other Canadian poets, but he insists on disturbing the formal poetic inheritance he esteems. His engagement with a variety of speaking voices asks that readers question authority and challenge institutional privilege. In By Word of Mouth, a collection from across his career, readers will discover how Cool …

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Excerpt

echolalia by Dennis Cooley

the first thing you should know

about me is i am

a sound poet

i wind up &

throw my voice

into the tent

: like that

? how you like that

neat don't you think

all the loops in the system

some smart guy said well

what's the point

it's canvas isn't it

& you say yeah well so what

it's paint yr smearing there

all over the canvas yr words are paint

he's a real pain in the ass that guy

the important thing is

i take soundings see

i try to hear myself

try to hear you hearing

yur eyes grow green & big

that's how i find myself that's how

i find you

i can hear where you sizzle

& pop

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Children of the Outer Dark

Children of the Outer Dark

The Poetry of Christopher Dewdney
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : canadian, literary

A four-time Governor General’s-award nominee for both poetry and non-fiction, Christopher Dewdney is celebrated internationally as a writer and a visionary and is best known for his particular imagining of place and memory. Beginning with Paleozoic fossil formations in southwestern Ontario and moving through eons of natural history to cityscapes and the digital present, Dewdney’s poetics encapsulate often surreal experiences from radical and epiphenomenal perspectives. His writing vibrates i …

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Excerpt

The Lynx in the Rapids by Christopher Dewdney

It is a grey, rainless summer afternoon. You are

walking through a northern hardwood forest beside

a river. You hear a baby crying from the brush near

the rapids. As you approach the sound, the hairs on

the nape of your neck prick up. You step onto a

rocky clearing beside the rapids. A wet lynx sits on

the flat rock verging the cataract, its back to you.

The lynx turns its head to look at you over its

shoulder. Its eyes are almost entirely pupil, the thin

rim of an elliptical, gold iris barely visible around the

black crystal caverns of its pupils. You have stood

here before. In memory you scream magnetically as

you pluck the irises from your own eyes in a mirror.

The iris-tissue like gold foil slipping off pupils that

are dark openings onto an unknowable, alien

emptiness. The sirens begin to wail. You turn to run

as the world starts to break up. The lynx wheels and

leaps in one bound onto your shoulders, sinking its

teeth into the back of your head. You are drawn

whole into the black vacuum of the lynx's mouth.

The lynx transforms into an enormous horned

serpent, its body containing a universe of stars.

The world is a prison that has shrunk to the

outline of your body. You are now free to move.

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Desire Never Leaves

Desire Never Leaves

The Poetry of Tim Lilburn
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

The selected poems in Desire Never Leaves span Tim Lilburn’s career, demonstrating the evolution of a unique and careful thinker as he takes his place among the nation’s premier writers. This edition of his poetry untangles many of the strands running through his works, providing insight into a poetic world that is both spectacular and humbling.

The introduction by Alison Calder situates Lilburn’s writing in an alternate tradition of prairie poetry that relies less on the vernacular and mo …

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Excerpt

Contemplation Is Mourning by Tim Lilburn

You lie down in the deer's bed.

It is bright with the undersides of grass revealed by her weight during the

length of her sleep. No one comes here; grass hums

because the body's touched it. Aspen leaves below you sour like horses

after a run. There are snowberries, fescue.

This is the edge of the known world and the beginning of philosophy.

Looking takes you so far on a leash of delight, then removes it and says

the price of admission to further is your name. Either the desert

and winter

of what the deer is in herself or a palace life disturbed by itches and

sounds

felt through the gigantic walls. Choose.

Light comes through pale trees as mind sometimes kisses the body.

The hills are the bones of hills.

The deer cannot be known. She is the Atlantic, she is Egypt, she is

the night where her names go missing, to walk into her oddness is

; to feel severed, sick, darkened, ashamed.

Her body is a border crossing, a wall and a perfume and past this

she is infinite. And it is terrible to enter this.

You lie down in the deer's bed, in the green martyrion, the place where

language buries itself, waiting place, weem.

You will wait. You will lean into the darkness of her absent

body. You will be shaved and narrowed by the barren strangeness of the

deer, the wastes of her oddness. Snow is coming. Light is cool,

nearly drinkable; from grass protrudes the hard, lost

smell of last year's melted snow.

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Earthly Pages

Earthly Pages

The Poetry of Don Domanski
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : canadian, literary

With The Cape Breton Book of the Dead, Don Domanski emerged as a remarkable new voice in Canadian poetry, combining formal conciseness with broad cosmic allusions, constant surprise with brooding atmospherics, and innovative syntax with delicate phrasings. In subsequent collections, Domanski’s poetry has deepened and expanded, with longer lines and more complex structures that journey into the far reaches of metaphor. Now, with Earthly Pages: The Poetry of Don Domanski, the long-awaited first …

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Excerpt

Dangerous Words by Don Domanski

little by little the thistles suffer on the hill

bare trees enter the river

the wind takes the earth and blows

it drop by drop into your ear

you are ashes mixed with rain and sleep

leaves rustling in a closed hand

a mouse dropped out of a cloud

dangerous words pass under your window

words that no one has ever used before

you follow them into the woods

your find three words building a fire

one word skinning a rabbit

and another word far off in the shadows

pissing on a violet

what do they have for you

these five elves these little men

this little sentence in the forest?

they have but one knife between them

one hat one coin one pot

and a dark bag full of spoons

what good are they to you?

what can they give you

that you don't already have?

if you touch them

you touch a hanging bell

and a small tongue wakes in the grass

to speak to you to give you a name

to call you tulip or pincurl

or doll's breath

which means you'll never see

your home again not your parents

or their love

which means you will always whisper

but never speak

never escape these little men

these words burning their supper their rabbit-water

in an iron pot.

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Fierce Departures

Fierce Departures

The Poetry of Dionne Brand
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : literary, canadian

The selections in Fierce Departures, drawn from Dionne Brand’s work since 1997, delineate with searing eloquence how history marks and dislocates peoples of the African diaspora, how nations, concretely and conceptually, fail to create safe haven, and how human desire persists nevertheless. Through a widening canvas, Brand unfolds the (im)possibilities of belonging for those whom history has dispossessed. Yet she also shows how Canada, and in particular Toronto, remade by those who alight on i …

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