Wednesday, April 11, 2012

3 New Poetry Collections: Handfuls of Bone, Distillō, and John Stokes' Horse

April is National Poetry Month in Canada. Since 1999 the League of Canadian Poets has spearheaded the drive to raise the profile of poets and poetry in our communities via the National Poetry Month. In support of this laudable initiative, I offer up three recent poetry collections from Gaspereau Press to tempt your reading appetites:

Handfuls of Bone (M)
by Monica Kidd

"Monica Kidd's Handfuls of Bone takes the reader to the end of the road and back, to outports both literal and figurative, to consider how it is that things somehow hold together. The poems, primarily short, narrative in form and lyric in spirit, are driven by distilled observation and concern themselves with the elemental. These truths find their expression in images of fish drying on Newfoundland clotheslines, of the velvety breath of a newborn baby, of a family's grief following a sudden death, of Amelia Earhart's ambition and apprehension, and of motherhood through thick and thin. In confronting uncomfortable moments of loss, want, illness, uncertainty and conflict, Kidd holds a level gaze, avoiding sentimentality and nostalgia. Kidd's is a poetic which embodies the twin skills of her physician's training-cool-headed and unblinking observation-based diagnosis combined with compassion, empathy and humanity." - Publisher

Distillō (M)
by Basma Kavanagh

"In her debut collection, Basma Kavanagh engages the natural world and seeks to explore our relationship with it. Her's is a poetics of description which subverts scientific observation and nomenclature for mythopoetic ends. Her subject matter is dissected and categorized with care, but ultimately the deluge of "rain making rain, /making rain" overwhelms controlled interrogation and undulating imagery saturates everything. Object poems consider west-coast flora and fauna (salmon, elk, bear, bigleaf maple, bog myrtle), drifting from the measured language of description toward the mythworld, harbouring ambiguity and surprise. By using visual patterns and layering multiple voices, Kavanagh experiments with expressing "a fullness /an absence /of self". This is a book which turns over rocks and looks under them in search of truth in its soft, damp hiding places, poems which instruct us to "Descend. Blend /your knowing with the breath of earth"." - Publisher

John Stokes' Horse (M)
by Peter Sanger

"In the figure of John Stokes' horse-a crudely-carved toy horse depicted in a David Blackwood engraving-Peter Sanger locates an imaginative gesture requiring the suspension of disbelief, for child and adult alike-a winged mount into a world where myth and memory mix. Looking at language, memory and art through the lens of language presents the very sort of riddle on which Sanger's poetics thrive. This collection also exhibits a preoccupation with light-shadows, reflections, signals, moon, water-and assails the present state of public discourse in a section called "Civics". These poems evoke, in Sanger's words, "imagination's creative energy, immanent in time and yet timeless, evidence of love, devotion and patience, evidence that by seeing art through its eyes we see more clearly through our own."" - Publisher

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