Poetry

1934 Isolation, grief, poetics, birdsong

Wrack Line by M.W. Jaeggle Regina: University of Regina Press, 2023 $19.95 /9780889779532 Reviewed by Joe Enns * Wrack Line, M.W. Jaeggle’s debut book of poetry, examines life in consideration of transitions and liminal distances “as crucial as the space / between prayer beads.” Jaeggle uses the wrack line—the area of seashore where organic material and…
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1920 A word for the wise

Story Lines: How Words Shape Our World by J. Edward Chamberlin Madeira Park: Douglas & McIntyre, 2023 $26.95  /  9781771623513 Reviewed by Gary Geddes * Stories not only keep us alive, but also help us make sense of the world and our place in it. From creation stories and cave drawings to the epic poems…
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1912 Fire, ash, and regrowth

Before Combustion By Nicholas Bradley Kentville: Gaspereau Press, 2023 $23.95 / 9871554472543 Reviewed by Marguerite Pigeon * The title of Nicholas Bradley’s new book, Before Combustion, is drawn from a line in his poem, “Self-portrait in Lycra Skinsuit,” where the poet considers a schism in his cyclist persona. There’s the familiar self who, enveloped in…
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1908 Bright and invisible and true

The White Light of Tomorrow By Russell Thornton Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing, 2023. $22.95 / 9781990776533 Reviewed by Al Rempel * There’s a fire at the heart of Russell Thornton’s poetry, and it burns fiercely in his latest book, The White Light of Tomorrow. Thornton’s poems have a deep elemental underpinning and William Carlos William’s…
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1897 Cultivating contemplation

Once upon a Time in the West: Essays on the Politics of Thought and Imagination by Jan Zwicky Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2023 $29.95  /  9780228017097 Reviewed by Ron Dart * I lived for a couple of years in the young 1970s in northern Norway and Switzerland. I spent time in Norway with the mountain…
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1894 Notes on grief

The All + Flesh By Brandi Bird  Toronto: House of Anansi, 2023 $16.99 / 9781487011826 Reviewed by Linda Rogers * We are all changed. Plague and pestilence have left many of us in a state of grief, our innocence lost, experience teaching us the perils of hubris. As usual, prayer translates to poetry as our…
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1890 Love in the Quantum Age

Catalogue d’oiseaux By Aaron Tucker Toronto: Book*hug Press, 2021 $20.00 / 9781771666947 Reviewed by Harold Rhenisch * Catalogue d’oiseaux is a long poem that portrays a pair of lovers in their forties remaking themselves into a couple, despite distance threatening to divide them. It is the rhythmic rocking of a body in isolation, two bodies…
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1879 What a wonder

Reckoning By Patrick Friesen Vancouver, BC: Anvil Press, 2023 $18.00 / 9781772142167 Reviewed by Al Rempel * Patrick Friesen’s latest book, Reckoning, is a masterfully crafted, single long poem that ranges across all three senses of reckoning, weaving new themes together with familiar themes to those who have read his previous work. Reckoning: to calculate…
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1873 Last words, famous and otherwise

Not Quite So Handsome By Danny Peart Vancouver: Milagro Press, 2022 $20.00 / 9780994932969 Reviewed by Patrick Connors  *  Vancouver’s Danny Peart begins Not Quite So Handsome with the poem “Intention,” which serves as sort of a prologue to the collection. The epigraph of the poem features lyrics from “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” by…
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1871 ‘Heralding the future’

Derelict Bicycles By Dale Tracy Vancouver, BC: Anvil Press, 2022 $18.00 / 9781772141986 Reviewed by Harold Rhenisch  * If you’ve been looking for a new book of poems that bends reality, your search is over. Derelict Bicycles is a perspective-bending book. Sometimes it’s like looking at consciousness inside out, such as in “Stomach End of…
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1856 Connecting to ‘a vital abolitionist tradition’

Harrowings By Cecily Nicholson Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2022 $19.95 / 9781772014051 Reviewed by Marguerite Pigeon * A bright red tractor churning Southern Ontario soil, BC orchards, waving prairie wheat fields. Christian uplift, and hardscrabble Euro-immigrant toil. All idealized scenes that participate in a specific farming imaginary that lets some Canadians eat our veggies without much bile—mostly…
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1854 Gifts of reconciliation

Entre Rive and Shore By Dominique Bernier-Cormier Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions, 2023 $19.95 / 9781781773102870 Undoing Hours By Selina Boan Gibsons, BC: Nightwood Editions, 2021 $18.95 / 9780889713963 The Punishment By Joseph Dandurand Gibsons, BC: Nightwood Editions, 2022 $21.95 / 9780889714328 Shapeshifters By Délani Valin Gibsons, BC: Nightwood Editions, 2022 $19.95 / 9780889714281 Reviewed…
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1853 Trust the tale not the teller?

Storylines: How Words Shape Our World by J. Edward Chamberlin Madeira Park, BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 2023 $26.95  /  9781771623513 Reviewed by Ron Verzuh * British novelist D.H. Lawrence once quipped that readers should trust the tale and not the teller. What did he mean? Prof emeritus J. Edward Chamberlin offers some possible answers in…
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1849 Poetic ‘meditaysyuns’

its th sailors life / still in treetment: meditaysyuns from gold mountain By bill bissett Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2022 $24.95 / 9781772013917 Reviewed by Cathy Ford * To begin at the beginning, first, I owe this book, its author, and the editorial review accompanying, apologies. I had hoped to review this book last November, then receiving…
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1843 ‘Bold lines and vivid imagery’

Cactus Gardens By Evelyn Lau Vancouver, BC: Anvil Press, 2022 $18 / 9781772141948 Reviewed by Joe Enns * Cactus Gardens, Evelyn Lau’s ninth poetry collection, drifts among seasons of lost relationships, green-grey geographies, and the eerie effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as though “beyond time, suspended / in transit, outcomes unclear.” The collection evokes vivid…
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