George Elliott Clarke has carved a name for himself in Canada’s poetry landscape as a talented modernist paradoxically charged with verbosity. The richness of his language, the energy and directness of his address, and his exploration of “big” themes (racism, love, poverty) have garnered him understandable praise. In his best work, the focus of language and theme creates an undeniable force.
The current geo-political events in Ukraine make the release of Gary Geddes’ latest collection, (The Ventriloquist: Poetic Narratives from the Womb of War (Rock’s Mills Press), all the more timely. Geddes has gathered in this one collection four previous books on the theme of war: Letter of the Master of Horse (1973), War & Other Measures (1976), The Terracotta Army (1984), and Hong Kong Poems (1987).
The Resistance to Poetry by James Longenbach
As an admirer of rampant kinds of poetics, I first discovered this Longenbach volume shortly after its 2004 publication and was instantly struck by its refusal to make poetry accommodating, accessible, to evidence the strain so many other poetics texts possess in their aim to convince the reader of the genre’s palatability, transparency, likeability.
I’m a worrier. I worry when I see someone holding a smart-phone up to a baby rather than endure a little fussing, and I worry when another Dad says he puts his kids to bed telling them to amuse themselves with the iPad until they’re tired. Algorithms appear to be designed to give people more of the same, so that we become more entrenched, both in terms of the arts and our political views, even aside from the way scrolling wrecks our ability to concentrate and, you know, read a book.
Was it a coincidence that Jason Purcell’s debut poetry collection Swollening arrived in the mail two hours before I tested positive for COVID19? I’d like to think that this was their way of easing me into a week of fever/hacking cough/burning throat and making things just a little bit better. I’m not a person who isolates easily. I thrive in constant companionship and surrounding myself with people who have to put up with my inane ramblings about writing. That’s where Swollening became my friend.