From Montreal's metro stations and streets to pastoral mise-en-scènes, William Vallières' first book, Versus, is a lyric bildungsroman filled with portraits of seduction and infatuation, loneliness and buried shame. "What yesterday had fought to bud / Is stunted under ice today." These are darkly canny poems about childhood, familial histories, lost love and the weariness of spending one's "being being / Everything I'm against." Deftly crafted, intense and compact, with barbed insights arrived at through verbal twists and syntactic half-turns, Vallières' voice is entirely his own.
Resisting Canada gathers together poets for a conversation bigger than poetic trends. The book's organizing principle is Canada--the Canada that established residential schools; the Canada grappling with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; the Canada that has been visible in its welcome of Syrian refugees, yet the not-always-tolerant place where the children of those refugees will grow up; the Canada eager to re-establish its global leadership on the environment while struggling to acknowledge Indigenous sovereignty on resource-rich land and enabling further colonization of that land. In the face of global conflicts due to climate change, scarcity, mass migrations, and the rise of xenophobic populisms, Canada still works with a surface understanding of its democratic values--both at their noblest and most deceptive.
The work included in Resisting Canada--by celebrated poets such as Lee Maracle, Jordan Abel, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Louise Bernice Halfe, Michael Prior, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson--addresses, among other things, Indigenous agency, cultural belonging, environmental anxieties, and racial privilege. These poems ask us to judge and resist a statecraft that refuses to acknowledge past and present wrongs. Think of Resisting Canada as a poetic letter to Canada's politicians and leaders.
What We Carry
A keen awareness of mortality underlies the poems in Susan Glickman’s vibrant seventh collection...These lyric poems have an unassuming grace and clarity. – Barbara Carey, Toronto Star
The respect paid to nature in this book is palpable and the sadness at its destruction is equally strong. The technical dexterity is as powerful as the emotions and shows a poet at the peak of her creativity. - Candace Fertile, Quill & Quire
The Suicide's Son
“I believe in the power of original sin,” writes James Arthur, “in the wound/ that keeps on wounding.” Set against a backdrop of political turmoil in the United States, The Suicide’s Son is about the complicated personal histories that parents inherit, add to, and pass on to their children. This is a confessional book of masks and personae, of depopulated landscapes haunted by history’s violence, of speakers whose conflicted truth-telling is marked by sense of complicity in the falsehoods they glimpse around them. “I’m aging very slowly, because every part of me / is already dead," says Frankenstein’s monster. With his formidable powers of observation and inimitable ear for the cadences of speech, Arthur shows himself to be, in only his second book, one of the best English-language poets writing today.
The belief in translation as an act of self-portraiture drives Afterwords, Geoffrey Cook's ambitious reimagining of German poems by Goethe, Heine, Rilke and Brecht. Cook's versions not only transform these foreign texts into English poems in their own right, but enrich and expand his uniquely prismatic voice. Cook brings a contemporary and Canadian tone to his adaptations, which also showcase the exacting craftsmanship for which his first collection, Postscript, was praised. Afterwords is a book that daringly celebrates authorship as a shared project. "Do you not feel," writes Goethe, "that, in my songs, I am one and the other, too?"