Of This, and Other Worlds
- Linda Frank (Author)
Cobalt Moon Embrace. Buschek Books (purchase at Amazon.ca)
- Aaron Bushkowsky (Author)
Mars is For Poems. Oolichan Books (purchase at Amazon.ca)
- Adam Getty (Author)
Reconciliation Poems. Nightwood Editions (purchase at Amazon.ca)
- Daniel Sendecki (Author)
Strange Currencies. AhaDada Books (purchase at Amazon.ca)
- Gregory M. Cook (Author)
Untying the Tongue. Black Moss Press (purchase at Amazon.ca)
Reviewed by Carole Turner
The Canadian landscape is saturated with poetic conceits that co-opt actuality in order to portray the self. Poetic narcissism becomes less a self-indulgence and more a record by different scribes bear witness to the world and their own reactions. Poets are indicators of vital conditions, not unlike canaries once kept for early warnings in dangerous mine-shafts. These five poets offer responses ranging from meditative wrestling matches with the self to incomplete reconciliations with unstable histories and with avatars of beauty, spirituality and world violence.
Aaron Bushkowsky contemplates extra-terrestrial bodies as sites for whimsical speculation, projecting the inner world onto the outer in a thinly-veiled self-portrait. In Mars is for Poems, dream-visions portray parallel universes, and imagination is set against ambivalent responses to consumer culture including science-fiction television, and pop-chart radio. Bushkowski’s planetary distancing inverts perspectives revealing sacrosanct and mundane conventions as arbitrary signs of cultural pre-conditioning. His writing insists we learn to love, and re-assess the quotidian while responding to our own inner exuberance.
Gregory Cook’s poetry is sprinkled with metaphors bridging self and environment while apparently reaching for the stars, but actually falling back into the self. In Untying the Tongue the poet’s ink captures a passing world that includes country hay-festivals, lost reminiscences of World War II veterans and taxi rides with abused women from half-way homes. Cook’s backdrop of ancestral heritage is set against engaging collocations: “On our farm sheep-counting lived in books and tales. / The horse that jumped my amnesia’s footboard/ was as real as my defiance of fear/ its striking hooves breaking my heartbeat.” In Cook’s self-conscious world, everything is story, including the process of writing.
Linda Frank spins memories and orphic dreams while held in thrall by the triple moon goddess. Paths of life are traced by departing birds, remnants of things left behind, and accumulated moments winding across morning skies. Frank’s richly metaphoric, mythological method incorporates natural imagery and symbolic sites, including hill-country plateaus, sensuous serpents, and ancient Abbeys. Shifting from Montreal to Hamilton, many of these poems allude equally to esoteric spirituality and pop culture ballads. In Cobalt Moon, the world of the living is kept at arm’s length, yet the self is explored so that fleshly passions emerge through turbulent dream-songs embracing Kurt Cobain, Orpheus, Carlos Castenada, Leonardo Di Caprio, and J.S. Bach.
Reconciliation Poems features manifold Biblical allusions, including Capernaum, and the olive groves of Galilee, wrapped in a contemporary gauze of words anointed with polysporin, covering irreconcilable wounds that may never heal. Adam Getty interweaves industrial cityscapes, tortuous dream worlds, world history and ancient myth. Images of Srebernica and cinnamon Cheerios are set in ironic juxtaposition to self-conscious speculations about the failure to achieve immortality through writing Getty works in a slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ontario, drawing inspiration from Moritz among others. Getty’s lucid eye measures Ophelia against the Mahadeviyakka, while Zamboni machines sweep past potters of ancient Corinth, and the mischief of Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov is contrasted with the worlds of Homer or the Iroquois.
Daniel Sendecki sends postcards from Beijing, the Mekong Delta and other Asian sites of strife. Sendecki observes time’s transformational power reducing once-potent bombshells to children’s toys, while the laughter of Laotian children slips into dreams of Walt Whitman occupying the poetic underworld of Calcutta. Sendecki’s tour of self-discovery relies heavily on metaphor to depict inward and outward progress simultaneously. His poetry resonates with eerie melodies of absence, in grisly meditations at Hanoi, Phom Penh, the Taj Mahal, Seoul and Tokyo. Mixing eastern and western spiritual perspectives, the return home is underscored with a parodic consecration and the realization that “To lose again what you’ve found out” can only inspire laughter at finally arriving where you have always been.
- Artistry to What End? by R. W. Stedingh
Books reviewed: Cartography and Walking by Adam Dickinson, Colours: Poems by Michael Bullock, and The Work of Snow by Gary Hyland
- Ombres miniatures by Thierry Bissonnette
Books reviewed: Averses et réglisses noires by Carole David, La marathonienne by Denise Desautels, Une écharde sous ton onglee by Louise Dupré, and Des ombres en formes d'oiseaux by Isabelle Gaudet-Labine
- Mystic Musings by David Jarraway
Books reviewed: Erupting in Flowers: Poems by Michael Bullock and Nocturnes: Poems of Night by Michael Bullock
- Collaborative Spirits by Susan Holbrook
Books reviewed: Wait Until Late Afternoon by David Bateman and Hiromi Goto, Sybil Unrest by Larissa Lai and Rita Wong, and Automaton Biographies by Larissa Lai
- Poésie québecoise et canadienne-anglaise by R. Mésavage
Books reviewed: Souffle d'eau by France Tremblay and Contre-taille: Poèmes choisis de vingt-cinq auteurs canadiens-anglais by Pierre Desruisseaux
MLA: Turner, Carole. Of This, and Other Worlds. canlit.ca. Canadian Literature, 8 Dec. 2011. Web. 19 May 2013.
This review originally appeared in Canadian Literature #185 (Summer 2005), (Stratton, Compton, Morra, Wylie, Gordon). (pg. 139 - 141)
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