how these writers have taught me that playing around with structure, narrative, lyric, words, linearity, humour and persona are fine pursuits in the game of poetry
i’m missing a bunch of stuff and may add to the list at some point
Elizabeth Bachinsky: Curio Grotesques and the Electronic Age (BookThug, 2005)
playfulness, versatility, sheer fun, especially the SpyCam section which plays around with narrative, reversing it and telling a whole different story
Anne Carson-pretty much anything but most recently “If Not, Winter-Fragments of Sappho” (Random House Vintage Books, 2002).
the annotation of what’s missing; the fragments, the beauty of the language
Dennis Cooley, many books but especially “the bentleys" (the University of Alberta Press, 2006)
the multitude of voices, the sensuality of the language. this book brings the prairies to me and i have no experience of the prairies...
Michael Dennis, This Day Full of Promise (cauldron books, Broken Jaw Press, 2002)
i love the intelligence and the tell it like it is-ness of this writer. there’s also versatility: comedy, tragedy, suspense…
Phil Hall, the Little Seamstress, Pedlar Press, 2010. i blogged about this book in July: it is humble, no big enunciations; it is astonishing in places with gorgeous sound play and image play, and a whole bunch of humour. in his Open Book Toronto interview with Pedlar Press publisher Beth Follett, Hall says "It is true that I encourage my poems, increasingly, to subvert the expected, whether that be sentiment, next word, or rhythm. I especially have it in for verbs these days. In syntax, they are the wax. Verb wax. A verb keeps nouns from torting each other. I don’t think the poem wants to go anywhere. It wants to stew in its own juices." this is why.
Robert Kroetsch, again many books, but especially Completed Field Notes (the University of Alberta Press, 2000)
versatility of styles, playfulness of language, puns, innuendo-esp. the Sad Phoenician and the Winnipeg Zoo. speaking of especially, the Hornbooks of Rita K. was one of those rare poetry books i devoured from cover to cover. this doesn't happen to me often. i loved the voice, the mystery, the fragments.
Daphne Marlatt, This Tremor Love Is (TalonBooks, 2001)
the gorgeous imagery, the delicious cadence, the lush language-the whole book is simply mesmerizing. i like the way Marlatt’s poems don’t give us an obvious context, start in the middle
Camille Martin, Codes of Public Sleep (BookThug, 2007)
i love her unusual juxtapositions, which open the imagery up for me and also surprise me. i adore being surprised in a poem.
rob mclennan, stone, book one (Palimpsest Press, 2004)
the images are vivid and original here. the text is minimal but says a lot. i like the shape of these poems. again the unusual juxtapositions surprise and delight.
Robert Priest, Scream Blue Living (The Mercury Press, 1992)
first contemporary poetry book i ever read, it was thrown at me by Phil Jenkins at the Ottawa Valley Book Festival at Roosters at Carleton in 1993. i didn’t know anyone there. took the book home and enjoyed, still enjoy its humour and imagination.
Monty Reid, pretty much everything but especially “Disappointment Island” (Chaudiere Books, 2006)
i like the minimalism, the wit and the tone of these poems. the writer’s ability to simplify complex things and to make everyday things beautiful.
Lisa Robertson-pretty much anything but especially “The Weather” (new star books, 2001). Robertson like Nathalie Stephens, another of my favourites, challenges the notion of genre, of what a poem is and can be. i love how Robertson plays with the sentence as a poetic form.
Stuart Ross, Hey Crumbling Balcony (ECW Press, 2003)
i love the sheer zaniness of these poems. talk about surprise. you never know what to expect. in these poems, a tornado can sit in a chair. Ross opens open a world of possibilities for me. it’s just so freeing.
Steven Ross Smith, the fluttertongue books, especially fluttertongue 4 adagio for the pressured sound (NeWest Press, 2007)
much in the way Marlatt starts in the middle, doesn’t provide context, lush imagery and sound. at a reading at the Manx Pub a few years back, hearing Smith read out loud was wonderful. he read the silences.
Nathalie Stephens, pretty much everything, but especially “Je Nathanaël” (Book Thug, 2006)
i like the idea of “l’entregenre” between genres, not necessarily of one or another. it works too with gender in this book. and then there are the small questions posed, addressing the reader.
[i posted this on facebook a while back and have decided to repost here, now that the blog is back]