Poetry

#579 Poetic memoir and needle biopsy

Trauma Head by Elee Kraljii Gardiner Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2018 $18.00 / 9781772141221 Reviewed by Yvonne Blomer * Trauma Head, by Vancouver poet Elee Kraljii Gardiner, was long-listed for the Raymond Souster Award and shortlisted for Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, both for books published in 2018 – Ed. * Try to hold mist,…
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#571 The Slinky and the mirror

Slinky Naive by Caroline Szpak Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2018 $18.00 / 9781772141153 Reviewed by Andrew Yang * Born in Istanbul, Polish-Canadian writer Caroline Szpak graduated from the writing program at the University of Victoria. Andrew Yang finds her debut volume of poetry, Slinky Naïve, “a collection that tirelessly pushes and expands the brackets of convention.”…
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#568 Pregnant lines and pauses

Q & A by Adrienne Gruber Toronto: Book*Hug Press, 2019 $18.00 / 9781771664721 Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve * “How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension.” — Harry, Duke of Sussex, after witnessing Duchess Meghan give birth to their first child. Adrienne Gruber’s poetic memoir arrives in the midst of a dawning realisation…
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#562 Blodgett’s poetic microclimate

Apostrophies VIII: Nothing Is But You and I by E.D. Blodgett Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2019 $19.99 / 9781772124514 Reviewed by Christopher Levenson * Born in Philadelphia in 1935, Ted (Edward Dickinson) Blodgett came to Canada in 1966 to teach at the University of Alberta. He moved to Surrey in 2009 after serving as Edmonton’s…
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#560 Arbutus, sandstone, & Salish Sea

Love of the Salish Sea Islands: New Essays, Memoirs and Poems by 40 Island Writers by Mona Fertig (editor) and Gail Sjuberg (introduction) Salt Spring Island: Mother Tongue Publishing, 2019 $23.95 / 9781896949734 Reviewed by Theresa Kishkan * I first encountered the term “islomania” in Lawrence Durrell’s sublime Reflections on a Marine Venus, a memoir…
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#559 Playing saxophone at Ponoka

Playing into Silence by Tina Biello Halfmoon Bay: Dagger Editions, 2019 $18.00 / 9781987915785 Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve * Narrative poetry often seems autobiographical even when we know it isn’t. Perhaps poetry is by definition more intense, concentrated and personal than prose. Tina Biello’s two previous books of poetry, In the Bone Cracks of the…
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#554 Patricia’s preternatural power

Amateurs at Love by Patricia Young Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 2019 $19.95 / 9780864929914 Reviewed by Heidi Greco * The word “amateur” comes from the French, the source language for our most beautiful words. Originally it meant “one who loves” or “lover” — so, to be an “amateur at love” must mean someone who loves…
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#553 From alienation to adulation

Flow: Poems Collected and New by Roy Miki, edited by Michael Barnholden Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2018 $49.95 / 9781772012101 Reviewed by Grahame Ware * Condemned in utero as an Enemy Alien by the Dominion of Canada in 1942, the scholar and poet Roy Miki (born 1942) emerged as a pioneer of the Japanese-Canadian redress movement of the 1980s. Reviewer…
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#542 Classical, biblical, theoretical

Passageways by Philip Resnick Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2018 $18.95 / 9781553805236 Reviewed by Andrew Parkin * This book is a selection of poems reaching back more than four decades. Unsurprisingly, we experience an array of subjects and themes expressed mainly in free verse but with very occasional rhymes. The subjects derive from Resnick’s reading and…
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#537 From Tim Hortons to Swan Lake

Homeless Memorial: Poems from the Streets of Vernon by John La Greca Victoria: Ekstasis Editions, 2018 $23.95 / 9781771712750 Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve First published April 26, 2019 * John La Greca would have been still in high school but already troubled and sensing his outsider status, at the time I spent a summer in…
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#535 What a poet should know

Rain Shadow by Nicholas Bradley Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2018 $19.95 / 9781772123708 Reviewed by Christopher Levenson First published April 24, 2019 * What should a poet know? Far more than with ornithology or the myths of ancient Greece, poets need to be obsessed with, and knowledgeable about, language itself, in all its multiplicities,…
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#533 Downtown Eastside Scribes

From the Heart of it All: Ten Years of Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside by Heidi Greco (editor) Vancouver: Otter Press, 2018 $18.00 / 9780994821942 Reviewed by Yvonne Blomer First published April 20, 2019 * For ten years (2008-2018), the Thursdays Writing Collective was an important part of Vancouver’s literary scene. At its goodbye party…
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#531 J. Michael Yates (1938-2019)

J. Michael Yates (1938-2019) An obituary by Alan Twigg * Creator and manager of Sono Nis Press from 1966 to 1976, J. Michael Yates has died in Vancouver General Hospital on April 17, 2019 from a variety of ailments. He was one of the most influential literary figures in British Columbia during the 1970s when…
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#529 Poems & portraits of Chinatown

Chinatown Ghosts: The Poems and Photographs of Jim Wong-Chu by Jim Wong-Chu Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018 $19.95 /  9781551527482 Reviewed by LiLynn Wan First published April 13, 2019 * When Chinatown Ghosts was first published in 1986, Jim Wong-Chu broke a silence in Canadian literature. This slim volume of poetry was one of the…
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#528 Fleeting moments that matter

Quarrels by Eve Joseph Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2018 $18.00 / 9781772141191 Reviewed by Paul Falardeau First published April 11, 2019 * On April 9, 2019, Victoria poet Eve Joseph, for her book Quarrels, was announced as one of three Canadian finalists for the handsomely-endowed 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize, along with Ontario poets Sarah Tolmie and…
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#522 Nurse log and a Great Blue Heron

Upend by Kevin Spenst Victoria: Frog Hollow Press, 2018 $15.00 / 9781926948652 Reviewed by David Stouck First published April 1, 2019 * In Vancouver’s poetry scene Kevin Spenst was probably first noted for his inventive forms of self-advertising. To promote an early chapbook titled Fast Fictions (2007) he printed and distributed a map of where…
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#521 The Al Purdy Poets’ Society

Beyond Forgetting: Celebrating 100 Years of Al Purdy by Howard White and Emma Skagen (editors), with a foreword by Steven Heighton Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing, 2018 $22.95  /  9781550178463 Reviewed by Sheldon Goldfarb First published Mar. 31, 2019 * A book of poems about a poet. What a notion. But actually poets often write about…
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#515 Fulford Harbour’s silent poet

Almost Islands: Phyllis Webb and the Pursuit of the Unwritten by Stephen Collis Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2018 $24.95 / 9781772012071 Reviewed by Sharon Thesen * Literary friendships are the source of more compositional energy than we usually give them credit for. As Stephen Collis reminds us in this deeply engaging book-length essay set within his friendship…
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#510 Joe’s monsters and critters

Bite Me! Musings on Monsters and Mayhem by Joe Rosenblatt Erin, Ontario: Porcupine’s Quill, 2019 $16.95 / 9780889844247 Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve * The day after Joe Rosenblatt died, his last book arrived in pre-publication digital format. I don’t want to write an elegy; others are doing that. It turns out I don’t need to;…
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#508 Sex, speed, and moonshine

A Violent Streak by Stephanie Warner Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2018 $15.00 / 9781554554461 Reviewed by Elee Kraljii Gardiner * The epigraph that opens Stephanie Warner’s debut collection of poetry, A Violent Streak, is a definition of the word “speed.” Given that the dominant themes and places of this group of poems have to…
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