You are never old, fair friends, our readers, as long as summer’s near. If poems appear as naturally as leaves unfurl on trees, then let the leaves of this our summer issue unfurl easily in your hands. If winter is the time for vistas, if from the warmth of your home you can see through the bare sticks of winter trees, then summer is intimate, as leaves fold over and against windows. Some poems like this intimacy, speaking the lassitude of a copse or grove. But, hey, it’s summer! Play ball! Home run! Head for the beach, the lake, the ocean’s curling surf, the sidewalk bistro, the ice cream parlour, the lettuce-crisp air conditioning of the Cineplex. That’s where some of these poems have gone. It’s the summer poetry issue!
We celebrate this summer with two special sections dedicated to the magnificent poets Travis Lane and Rae Armantrout. Travis is close to our heart; she has given her head and hands to The Fiddlehead for so many years now. She lives right here in Fredericton and drops in to say hello, to pick up books for review, never afraid to encourage or prune as she sees fit. She has lent her gorgeous poems to us in many issues. If you have overlooked Travis Lane, here is the opportunity to peruse her work and marvel, in this selection so carefully tended and introduced by Shane Neilson.
One day, a student came into my office and said, “my favorite poet is Rae Armantrout.” And it seemed perfect. I recalled a winter at Arizona State reading her poetry assiduously, amazed by her sly and spooky juxtapositions and resonances. I recruited Rebecca Salazar, and we spent afternoons in a café talking, thinking aloud, laughing, debating, and puzzling over how to select what seemed to us to be the too few poems that would represent Rae Armantrout. Rae has given us new poems, and Rebecca and I have selected writing from across her career to introduce Rae’s poetry to Canadian readers unfamiliar with her, and to present the dynamic range of her melodies to those who already love her work.
The purpose of these retrospectives has been to place the best of international authors in the context of Canadian poetry, though this year for the first time we present Travis Lane, who came from the U. S. to become one of our most treasured Canadian poets. But it wouldn’t be The Fiddlehead if we didn’t present these poets together with some of the finest new poets, poets who have yet to publish a book or have just published their first or second. Pay close attention to the inventiveness and surprise of Richard Kelly Kemick, Jenny Haysom, Cassidy McFadzean, Nyla Matuk, Kayla Czaga, Michael Pacey, Shoshanna Wingate, Bren Simmers, and Steve Tomasko.
We are in a poetry renaissance in Canada at the moment, recorded in the explosion of poetry in so many directions at once, scattering its exquisite debris all over the place. The Fiddlehead summer issue cannot sort out all of the pieces, but an impression of the different trajectories can be found in the work of Sina Queyras, Patricia Young, matt robinson, Miranda Pearson, Jan Conn, Jan Zwicky, Stephanie Bolster, Anne Compton, Robyn Sarah, A.F. Moritz, Patrick Warner, and Shane Neilson.
You never grow old, friends in poetry. I know it is but summer poetry, yet it will remain in the full four seasons of your heart.