poetry reviews

Keep PoetryReviews.ca Alive

Ok, it’s been almost a month since the last review, and that’s way too long. It’s certainly not for a lack of reviews to post or books to review: I’ve got about 20 reviews that need positing and at least 80 books that could be sent out for review. The problem is time. I’m a one-person operation, and my business and family take precedence over this site. Having said that, I don’t just want to let PoetryReviews.ca fade away into nothing. It’s become an excellent resource and remains the only site dedicated solely to Canadian poetry reviews. So, it’s probably time for me to either give the site up or look for a partner who’d be willing to take on
Unsettled by Zachariah Wells

Unsettled by Zachariah Wells

“Not since Al Purdy’s North of Summerhas a Canadian poet written so compellingly about life in the frozen arctic,” opens the back-cover blurb of Vancouver-via-Baffin Island-via-PEI poet Zachariah Wells’ first collection, Unsettled. The similarities between Purdy’s book and Wells’ — a collection of poems written during Wells’ time working as an airline freight handler on Baffin and Cornwallis Islands — are found both in their subject matter and styles. The poems in the two collections explore the authors’ sense of self as grounded in (and out of) place – writers utilizing a foreign land to unlock once-foreign parts of themselves. Likewise, stylistically, it would not take much to convince me that lines such as “Tirelessness, sleeplessness, endless darkness, endless / light, boxes,

Before the First Word: The Poetry of Lorna Crozier edited by Catherine Hunter

Lorna Crozier is a knowledgeable poet and a worthy matriarch for Canadian poetry. Before the First Word: The Poetry of Lorna Crozier is a part of a new wise series of texts from Wilfrid Laurier University Press that strive to bring Canadian poets to a larger audience. Without pretence and with an eye to producing the effect of improvisation, these collections come selected and introduced by a critic with an afterword from the poet represented. This project is one of the most exciting, cooperative, communal and familial endeavours that I have seen coming out of the poetry establishment in the past few years and all of my praise goes out to Wilfrid Laurier Press for their efforts. The poems of Lorna Crozier

Ricochet by Seymour Mayne

Title: Ricochet Author: Seymour Mayne Publisher: Mosaic Press Year: 2004 Pages: n/a     Ricochet is a slim but impressive volume of word sonnets by the form’s pioneer, Seymour Mayne. A word sonnet is a fourteen line poem, where each line contains a single word: the process of reading becomes a meditation, an expansion. Its reader quickly grasps the similarity to haiku, where the beauty of the poem lies in simplicity and succinctness. But where a haiku creates a scene, universal and eternal, like cycles of life and death, or of the seasons, these word sonnets choose different themes and lack an inherent, comforting circularity. Furthermore, constricted by rigid formal rules, the syllabic structure of haiku ensures that no word is used superfluously. Here, the universality
The Wireless Room by Shane Rhodes

The Wireless Room by Shane Rhodes [Retro Review]

Shane Rhodes takes a lot of poetic risks in The Wireless Room (NeWest 2000). Rhodes is not governed by any one style, form, language, or theme; he is about variation, innovation, intelligence, and electricity. In terms of metaphor, Rhodes’ writing is rich and evocative. His metaphors and similes can be brief and vivid (”a jet splits the sky, a scalpel in a Caesarian” [”Home Roads” 8]) or long and drawn out, as in “Twilight, Watervalley Hills” (11-12) in which, for the entirety of the poem, the hills are compared to the dialogue of a drunken uncle. These metaphors can also contain a lot of emotional intensity, as when the speaker of “Claims” says of his alcoholic father, “My father swallowed the 30
Were the Bees by Andy Weaver

Were the Bees by Andy Weaver

Some of us have been waiting years for a first collection from Edmonton poet Andy Weaver to appear, and finally it has, published by Edmonton’s NeWest Press in spring 2005 as the collection Were the Bees. Weaver’s poems are almost a bridge between the prairie lines of Robert Kroetsch, the current trends of more traditional Canadian lyric modes and the considerations of the Canadian avant-garde. An admirer of the work of Don McKay and Jan Zwicky, for example, Weaver holds as much appreciation for the work of, say, derek beaulieu and Louis Cabri, all of which he has brought to Edmonton as part of his former involvement (as founder/organizer) in the monthly Olive reading and chapbook series. The strongest section of