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SHERI BENNING: FIELD REQUIEM, THREE PARTS

SHERI BENNING from Let Them Rest ( Field Requiem )   …dies illa  Solvet sæclum in favilla             -  Dies Irae 1 Zephaniah      It’s true what they say. We were warned:  everything will be swept away,  everything consumed. Winter-killed   perch, walleye, pike, white bellies,  slack flags. Thousands  washed ashore at Stoney Lake –    fertilizer run-off,  nitrogen, phosphorous,  blue-green algae bloom.   ℟ .  It’s true. We were warned.   Everything swept away.  Everything consumed. Sky bled dry  of midges. Locusts, bees, neurons frayed.    Antiseptic silence of canola  fields at dusk, muted grasshopper thrum.                            ℟ .  Our blood poured out like dust.   Swept away. Consumed.  Empty Barn Swallow nests  in rafters and eaves.   The Western Meadowlark’s throat,  an open grave. Neonic-coated  soybean, canola, sunflower, wheat.   White Crown Sparrows,  migration delayed,  anorexic, compass lost.                                                   ℟ .  A land possessed o

FRAGMENT, PUNCTURE, TIME: GILLIAN SZE IN CONVERSATION

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Poet-scholar Gillian Sze's Quiet Night Think fuses prose and lyric   into a hybrid whole that meditates on place, identity, tradition, adaptation, what to hold and how, and the language these things are filtered through. We chatted recently by email about how the book took shape and what's ahead. SUSAN GILLIS: I’m struck by your ease of movement through the book’s meditations in prose and poetry on its interwoven subjects of language and culture, family, transitions and becoming. Where did this collection begin for you, and at what point did you begin to conceive of it as hybrid whole? (aside: autotype called it a coolection ) GILLIAN SZE: The collection (coolection!) began with the title essay, “Quiet Night Think.” I was asked to write about writing and I found myself thinking about that early encounter with poetry. Li Bai’s poem clearly made an impact. I was working on my dissertation at the time, and I found it so enjoyable to write something that wasn’t purely poetry nor pu

HELLO, 2023

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Paul Rode, Brenda Reading (oil on board, circa 1985) During 2021 and 2022, serving on two Canadian poetry awards committees, I was stirred in wide-ranging ways by more books and individual poems than could be encompassed by lists long or short.  I'm grateful for this wealth of poetry, which is enormous.  Some of those poems will show up here in the coming year. To close out 2022, here's  "Current" by Gillian Sze . Look for our conversation about this poem coming up in January.

GILLIAN SZE: A POEM

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Gillian Sze CURRENT And you are ever again the wave sweeping through all things.  --Rilke (II.3) In a single gust, it seems,  the leaves yellow and one evening, I find the maple bare, the last of summer burnished. The trees know no vanity. I walk around a manmade lake  and tell my son that the birch kept growing just to meet him. Pay attention, the boughs sigh. It is against trees that I measure the dawning of his life as an arc of a single ring. An ocean over,  a mulberry tree stands in the same spot as it did twelve hundred years ago, for the most part ignored until everything around it was replaced with stones and gods, and someone ran a hand over its surface, recognized patience, vast and slow. Somewhere, as it's done each fall, a moose rubs its antlers among the trees, branch against branch. My son wonders up  at the new starkness of the maple, the exposed scaffolding of autumn. You lift a fallen prong of bones and begin to work, naming and renaming  each leafless thing. Gilli

FIERCELY LANGUAGE RESISTS: MICHELLE GIL-MONTERO IN CONVERSATION

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Michelle Gil-Montero (photo: Dawn Zacharias) Earlier this year I found my way to Michelle Gil-Montero 's brilliant translation of  Edinburgh Notebook  /  Cuaderno de Edimburgo  by Mexican poet  Valerie Mejer Caso . The notebook is a body, a landscape of grief and dying, of vanished paths. In the landscape (in the body) are mountains, shadowy ponds, quicksand, clouds compressing time, hallucinatory apparitions and transformations. SUSAN GILLIS: How did you decide to take on this project?  Did the book find you or did you find it?   MICHELLE GIL-MONTERO: I had recently translated Mejer Caso’s  This Blue Novel , another book that confronts death and loss, and I really wanted to continue with her work. As soon as I began to read  Edinburgh Notebook,  I recognized  a relationship between the two books that compelled me to translate  Edinburgh Notebook  next. At first glance, the books are pretty different—formally, and in scope.  This Blue Novel  is a sweeping long poem that maps gener

Claire Caldwell: A Poem

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Claire Caldwell SOUNDS A RIVER MAKES Gas leak, ventilator, bear clicking its teeth. Twelve hundred caribou hooves on frost. Lips around bottle, bottle slurring on bar. Rattling aspen, dusky grouse, sheets drying outside. Grandmothers stuffing envelopes in a high school gym. Sex in a sleeping bag, house on fire. A children's choir after one kid faints, before the rest start to sing. from Gold Rush by Claire Caldwell , Invisible Publishing, 2020

WHAT SHIFTS: A CONVERSATION WITH BREN SIMMERS

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SUSAN GILLIS: How did you first come to poetry - or poetry to you? BREN SIMMERS: I grew up in a household of readers. We went to the library once a week and loaded up on books. My dad, d.n.  simmers,  was a poet and he encouraged me to write. For two hours every weekend, he would shut the door to his office and we knew better than to disturb him. From an early age, I knew that writing meant quiet, reading and muttering to yourself – all things I loved to do. Later, when I moved out, my dad had a book box by the door, his recently read pile. I could take anything I want. Having that kind of unfettered access to books and family support to pursue writing was key to my finding poetry.   SG: One thing I admire in  If, When  is the way you’ve made time and place almost porous; lives lived a century ago seem as present as those being lived now. In exploring those earlier times and places, what surprised you, what changed you (or, changed for you, in your sense of place and connectedness)?