Poetry review: new books by Pheobe Wang & Shane Rhodes, in The Globe & Mail

I reviewed Admission Requirements by Phoebe Wang & Dead White Men by Shane Rhodes for The Globe & Mail. Both books are excellent & highly recommended!

Phoebe Wang’s Admission Requirements is a lyrical meditation on identity, migration, family and community. It examines invisible – and indivisible – connections and boundaries. Wang opens with a question: “Are we done at last/with the idea of breaking ground/now that every bit of terra nullius has been subdued?” Terra nullius is Latin for “nobody’s land” – an expression that informed international law and enabled occupation. This open challenge announces Wang’s incomparable voice and vision, as she proceeds to break new ground on every page.

Admission Requirements swells with bodies of water, longing across distances, the unpredictability of currents when swimming and the loaded menace of foreign species, as in Invasive Carp. In Night Ferry, Wang writes, “Like the deck of a Ouija board, the boat crawls” toward a city that is “burning its birthday candles.” There’s something necessarily unsettling about the relationship drawn between what’s ominous and what’s universal.

Read the rest of the review here.

Poetry review: new books by Michael V. Smith & Elana Wolff for Quill & Quire

I reviewed Bad Ideas by Michael V. Smith & Everything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff for Quill & Quire.

Michael V. Smith’s new poetry collection, Bad Ideas, is comprised of meditations on mourning, longing, sexuality, and gender. Throughout the book are poems about the passing of Smith’s father, poems that question masculinity, and poems that strive for joy. Oh, and there’s a bunch of loveable dogs in there, too.

Read the rest of the review here.

 

This Magazine: recent selections as poetry editor

I’ve been working as poetry editor at This Magazine for a couple of issues now. The first issue I worked on featured the work of Gwen Benaway, whose voice is at once singular & universal. Gwen’s poem, “Pretty,” is online to read (for free!) now. I encourage you to visit the site & read the pc, & then follow up with the rest of her work. Her latest book is called Passage, & there is no way not to be changed by it. I want to thank Gwen for entrusting me with her wonderful writing on my first issue.

The cover image above is for This Magazine‘s Summer Reading Issue, out now in bookstores. It features the work of a few of our finest & most original emerging poets: Canisia Lubrin, Doyali Islam, Natalie Wee, & Basia Gilas. I was absolutely floored by their work & am honoured to be able to share it with you. I hope you will pick up the issue & support independent, progressive media & some truly excellent poets.

Interview on The Poetry Extension

Natalya Anderson, curator of the Poetry Extension, was kind enough to interview me recently:

I always had the idea that writing was a long apprenticeship, and I really didn’t start writing until about five years ago. I thought, ‘First I have to read all these books; then I have to open a bookstore.’ In my twenties I did open a bookstore. Then I worked as an editor, so it was, ‘Once I’m done editing, then I’ll write.’ And when I had the bookstore all these people were buying books, and I remember getting this sad feeling of, ‘They don’t even know that I wish I was a writer.’ That started to gnaw at me.

Enormous thanks to Natalya.

You can read the whole thing here.

Ought not these oldest sufferings of ours to be yielding more fruit by now? Is it not time that, in loving, we freed ourselves from the loved one, and, quivering, endured: as the arrow endures the string, to become, in the gathering out-leap, something more than itself?
For staying is nowhere.

—Rilke

Poets Series portrait

Poetry is so weird & wonderful. I never imagined that writing poems would lead to having a portrait done. This painting is by the multi-talented artist & poet Melanie Janisse Barlow, as part of her Poets Series. In her own words:

“The idea behind the Poets Series is to paint portraits of living poets and let each poet pick the next as a practice of praco-poesis. More simply put, I hoped to create a round robin of poets. I began this work by crowd sourcing poets to begin each branch. I asked the poets who were picked if I could paint a portrait of them, and if they wouldn’t mind selecting the next poet to add to the series. The response has been astounding. As the beginning poets included other poets, and the archive began to grow, branch by branch into an amazing narrative of contemporary poetry. The Poets Series is a celebration of the complex tangle of living poets that belong to a loose archive.” 

See more of the series here.

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1st issue as editor of This Magazine

My first issue as poetry editor of This Magazine features the work of Gwen Benaway.

Gwen Benaway is of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. Her first collection of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead, was published in 2013 and her second collection of poetry, Passage, was released in 2016 from Kegedonce Press. Her third collection of poetry is forthcoming from Bookthug in 2017/2018.

I can’t recommend Gwen’s latest book, Passage, enough.