This paper asks whether poets' forging of new literary forms or uses of language should be determined by the usefulness of these innovations for effecting political change. Statements of poetics by William Wordsworth and Ezra Pound show that major poets in the past regarded linguistic innovation as essential to the work of poetry. The essay then discusses statements of four contemporary Canadian poet/innovators: Jeff Derksen, Roger Farr, Erín Moure, and Lisa Robertson. Derksen and Farr offer a poetics of intervention and resistance to neoliberalist policy whereas the writings and poetics of Moure and Robertson open a visionary field of playful experimental form where critique of neoliberalism is but one thread. The paper suggests that highly accessible language is more likely than innovative language to effect political change, but that each generation must invent a language it can think in, in response to the social conditions of its time.
Frenchmight have meant in English-speaking Canada in the 1880s, besides a nationalist re-sourcing of cultural difference. In Harrison’s story collection,
Frenchoperates within the confused distinctions—aesthetic, moral, and socio-economic—of late-nineteenth century Canada and functions as part of a critique of bourgeois morality. In the penultimate story in the collection,
How the Mr. Foxleys Came, Stayed, and Never Went Away,the sharp edge of this critique is aimed at the conjugal relations of an emerging liberal order in the space/time of the settler colony. This article analyzes the interrelatedness of taste as a social performance and mode of recognition, conjugal relationships and their meanings, and the modern nation as a structure based on imagined intimacy in the writing that struck one of Harrison’s contemporaries as