Y’all know how I love lists. Lists are fucking arbitrary. Other lists always make me want to write my own lists because I don’t see what I would consider to be great whatevers on their lists. So here are 30 Canadian poetry books on my shelf that I continue to engage with, pull off my shelves and reread, & would recommend for anyone who wanted to read compelling stuff. My tastes tend to run toward edgy, dark poems that have duende (see *); I also enjoy a good long poem or poem series.
1. Tom Walmsley, What Happened (Book Thug, 2007)*
2. Tom Walmsley, Honeymoon in Berlin (Anvil Press, 2004)*
3. bpNichol, the Martyrology (Books 1-9) (Coach House, 1972-1993)
4. John Thompson, Collected Poems and Translations (Goose Lane Editions, 1995, 2015)*
5. Sandra Ridley, Post Apothecary (Pedlar Press, 2011)*
6. Sandra Ridley, The Counting House (Book Thug, 2013)
7. Sandra Ridley, Fallout (Hagios Press, 2010)
8. Robert Kroetsch, the Completed Field Notes (the University of Alberta Press, 2000)
9. Dennis Cooley, the Bentleys (the University of Alberta Press, 2006)
10. Dennis Cooley, Bloody Jack (Turnstone Press, 1984), (the University of Alberta Press, 2002)*
11. Dennis Cooley, Seeing Red (Turnstone Press, 2003)
12. Nathalie Stephens, Je Nathanaël (Book Thug, 2006)
13. Anne Carson, Short Talks (Brick Books, 1992, 2015)
14. Anne Carson, If Not, Winter – Fragments of Sappho (Vintage Canada, 2003)
15. Gwendolyn MacEwen, the Selected Gwendolyn MacEwen (Exile Editions, 2008)*
16. rob mclennan, Aubade (Broken Jaw Press, 2008)
17. rob mclennan, stone, book one (Palimpsest Press, 2004)
18. rob mclennan, a compact of words (salmonpoetry, 2009)
19. Oana Avasilichioaei, We, Beasts (Wolsak and Wynn, 2011)*
20. Oana Avasilichioaei & Erín Moure, Expeditions of a Chimaera
21. Erín Moure, The Unmemntioable (House of Anansi Press, 2012)
22. Erín Moure, O Cadoiro (House of Anansi Press, 2011)
23. Stephen Brockwell, The Real, Made Up (ECW Press, 2007)
24. Stephen Brockwell, Complete Surprising Fragments of Improbable Books (Mansfield Press, 2013)
25. Christine McNair, Conflict (Book Thug, 2012)*
26. Ken Babstock, Methodist Hatchet (House of Anansi Press, 2011)
27. Ken Babstock, Airstream Land Yacht (House of Anansi Press, 2006)
28. Pearl Pirie, been shed bore (Chaudiere Books, 2010)
29. Marcus McCann, the Hard Return (Insomniac Press, 2012)
30. Monty Reid, the Luskville Reductions (Brick Books, 2008)
See my 100 poetry books list over on 49thShelf.com, the queen of lists, if you want more of this.
And if there are books that you feel should be on such a list, I encourage you to make your own list & share it around. Send me the link! If you don’t have any of these books, get thee to your neighbourhood indie bookstore & pick them up or order them.
In Ottawa, I highly recommend Octopus Books on Third Avenue in the Glebe. Its Canadian CanPo section is crammed with great books at the bottom of a shelving unit at the back of the store.
If you're short of dough, visit the Ottawa Public Library. If you don't see these books on the list, ask for them.