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Kevin Irie: The Tantramar Re-Vision

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John James Audubon, Whooping Crane (Sandhill Crane), 1835. Image from Museum of Nebraska Art                      In                     the marsh grass,                      wind                    stirs up some business           I don't know about.                                                           This exciting news about sandhill cranes  taking up residence in the salt marshes between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick sends me back today to Kevin Irie's luminous book of poems, The Tantramar Re-vision (McGill-Queen's, 2021). In these poems, instances of the extraordinary sometimes leap, sometimes slide into a landscape of shifting moods.            Something moves downstream                past thinking of us: Encounters are as likely to be with conundrums and meditative correspondences as with things.           How did it end as                      a small dark brush           sweeping the earth           up into a stillness           like an answer              

COIN OF ANOTHER WORLD: EDINBURGH NOTEBOOK by Valerie Mejer Caso, translated by Michelle Gil-Montero

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Edinburgh Notebook (Action Books) "Poetry -- that catacomb art which refuses to perish with our mortal beings"*  One of the reasons I love poetry is its way of keeping company with grief. This late winter and early spring I've been surging with grief. The catalog of particulars: another dictator pushing the world into war; misguided people trying to bully away a pandemic with trucks and noise; plastics riddling oceans; species vanishing; the earth heating up....Turning to poetry helps to restore my sense that there's more to humanity than collapse and destruction.  It's in this mood I return, again, to Valerie Mejer Caso's  Cuaderno de Edimburgo (Edinburgh Notebook,  in Michelle Gil-Montero's brilliant English). Poems of mysterious power and agitation document a loved brother's death by suicide and give luminous expression to suffering, calling us to confront our own sorrow. Collages by the author and photographs by Barry Shapiro punctuate the poem seq

VALERIE MEJER CASO: ECHO | ECO

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image by ralev_com Valerie Mejer Caso,  translated by  Michelle Gil-Montero  ECHO Once the ocean is spent, its hollow converts to steel, and all the oddly propped boats are ready to tumble onto that empty plate. I have no sun in this world, no ocean. What can I do with all these daggers, heaped where the mountain used to be? Some piece of the story has left us shaking, as a great wind jingles the bangles on a frightful crown, has dragged the rain and waterfalls to a distant atmosphere. Water’s time is captive. In it, the groom clenches his eyes and takes in the night of another body, and their breath flickeringly lights the cabin, the palm trees, the people drinking in silence. It brightens his face like a planet. Light enough to burst the sphere and spill its liquid down the street where the sea is still evaporating and the boat, with no way to steady itself, lurches. On their bloody evening, the trees stir, the broken jugs rejoin along empty paths. There is a mountain made of teeth.

GEOMETRY AND THE BOOK

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The ever-expanding to-read list: Kaveh Akbar's Pilgrim Bell , brought to my attention by this Rumpus book club chat . Lots of takeaway in that chat; read my notes on geometry and "spiritual technology powered by the human form" here.   (Love how this cover image takes apart the bell! the bell!)

RECENTLY RECEIVED

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Resistance: Righteous Rage in the Age of #MeToo , edited by Sue Goyette. University of Regina Press, 2021 Sue Goyette's sensitive and uncompromising foreword is a necessary guide through this anthology of poems that take on, and take up, the subject of sexual assault and abuse. The presence of care and commitment, Goyette's and all the participants', is felt on every page. Four sections track increasing intensity: Innocence/Exposure; Endurance/Persistence; Rage/Resistance; and arrive at an unsettled rest: Survival/Recovery. Variations of Ren é e Munn's arresting cover image, "Ophelia," make striking section markers. Poems that open a world to me include Catherine Greenwood's "Black Plums," a chilling revision of the nursery rhyme about Little Jack Horner; Eleonore Schönmaier’s "Sixteen," in which two voices meet "on the narrow rocky trail;" Byrna Barclay's clear-eyed "Birdman," which watches an exterm

LINDSAY B-E, THE CYBORG ANTHOLOGY

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Lindsay B-e, "carbon cleaning columns". By permission Lindsay B-e ’s debut collection The Cyborg Anthology ( Brick Books , 2020) is a book that imagines itself into a post-future future, a time after robots and cyborgs, who had thrived alongside humans, have been largely wiped out by the Great Solar Flare of 2202. The anthology’s aim is “to preserve and remember the Cyborg poets.” B-e’s invented poets tell of being and suffering, while B-e’s poems examine being and the elements that compose it. They shift and open the question of what it is to be human. The playfulness of language delights me: titles like Hazel Hush’s “Relate Real Late” and “Topic Top Pick”, and the shaped poems of Patterson Armitage--The DictaScrivener, poems that curl and unfurl and clot over the page. The invented eras and schools make fond mockery of poetics and theory. And I’m moved by the expressions of desire, anguish, love and loss in these voices, how though some of them may deny it, they spea