“Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to him from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it’s true of everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace.”

— from “An interview with James Baldwin” (1961)


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Reading on November 20, 2013 as part of Odourless Press Poetry Launch

I’ll be reading November 20 as part of the fall 2013 poetry releases from Odourless Press.

From the event page:

Join us on Wednesday 20 November at No One Writes to the Colonel for the launch of the Odourless Press fall line-up.For sale will be chapbooks by Mat Laporte and Phoebe Wang; pamphlets by Baron Jeramy Dodds and Stevie Howell; and a broadside by Spencer Gordon, who will also be selling his recent chapbook, CONSERVATIVE MAJORITY, published by Ottawa’s Apt. 9 Press.

The authors will be reading from their works.

Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/524720954284271/?fref=ts

Review of Whirr & Click by Micheline Maylor

whirrThe title of Calgary resident Micheline Maylor’s new collection is a nod to the visual: the words and accompanying cover image suggest a camera lens. And poems such as “Ammonite” and “Borderlands” speak of the Banff region’s key visual characteristics: “On the verge of a cliff / is a view of the peak, a view of the river. / And if I fell, if I decided to fly / those features would still have little to do / with each other.”

However, the book’s focus is primarily interior, and the dynamism suggested in the title rarely finds its way into the text. The narratives roll out languidly, for the most part in free verse, although there is one villanelle. Maylor reflects on her early rural life, first loves, and family. The poet lingers over a lost love: “Did I tell you about the time I spied / you in the vegetable market passing / the peppers, on your way towards / the cucumbers? I gripped a cob of corn / until I creamed it.”

The final part of the book is an elegy called “Starfish,” in which the “whirr and click” motif morphs into a metaphor involving a watch (in which I expected the numbered sections to run out at XII, but they went beyond this). Following the death of the poem’s subject, Maylor inherited a watch, and she remembers: “You were never late for me / not once / were you late for me.”

Certainly, it is not difficult for most of us to relate to loss or inheritance. But ultimately the forces of sentimentality are relied upon too heavily in Whirr & Click, rather than the artful framing of the scenes or the unbound energy of the line.

Reviewed for Quill and Quire (from the July 2013 issue)