Category: Poetry

Jay Macpherson

Another Canadian poet has died recently: Jay Macpherson passed away on March 24. She was, according to Quill and Quire, one of “Canada’s finest— and arguably most underappreciated— poets.” Reading an assessment like that always makes me want to find out more. I knew of Jay Macpherson, very peripherally (she contributed some hymn translations for the … Continue reading Jay Macpherson

Discoveries: Colleen Thibaudeau

Colleen Thibaudeau’s obituary in the Feb. 9 Globe and Mail was intriguing in a couple of ways. For one thing, I had never heard her name before. This in itself is nothing new; even in the relatively small world of Canadian poetry I do encounter well-established poets I’ve never heard of. Having belatedly discovered Thibaudeau, … Continue reading Discoveries: Colleen Thibaudeau

Objects and memory

There are certain small objects packed away in a box in the attic, or tucked into the back of a desk drawer, that I will probably never get rid of, and this poem by Sharon Olds shows brilliantly the reason why. In “Toth Farry” (the spelling borrowed from a note her child once wrote to … Continue reading Objects and memory

Giving literature away

Saskatchewan writer Don Kerr’s latest poetry collection, The dust of just beginning (2010), has two interesting things on the copyright page. First, the book is under a Creative Commons license, under the terms of which anyone can “copy, distribute and transmit the work” for non-commercial purposes, as long as the author is properly credited. Second, … Continue reading Giving literature away

How to ruin a perfectly good poem, and why

The prolific American poet W.D. Snodgrass, in his book De/Compositions, asks the question: What makes a good poem good? and what happens when you remove that quality? The short answer is that you spoil the poem, but the particular ways of spoiling poems are what make this book so intriguing. Snodgrass takes poems by W.H. Auden, … Continue reading How to ruin a perfectly good poem, and why

Out of the ordinary

The genius of much folk music, whether traditional or contemporary, is that it takes perfectly ordinary situations and makes them interesting, significant, even mythical. Love, friendship, birth and death, natural beauty— all these are common enough, but all feel distinctive and unique to the one experiencing them. Hearing a song about the very thing happening … Continue reading Out of the ordinary

Discoveries

I’ve been roaming through this old anthology, published in the 1920s and entitled, with great simplicity, The Canadian Poetry Book. Without even looking at the preface or the endnotes you can tell it’s a school text. The names of Doris Morgan and her sisters from Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan are written on the cover and flyleaf. One … Continue reading Discoveries

Poems for fall

So many autumn poems are melancholy. Granted, some autumn days are conducive to melancholy: dull, damp and grey. Dry leaves turn to wet brown muck in the streets and you retreat inside with thoughts of blankets and hot drinks. Fall is equated, understandably, with old age and fading beauty. It’s linked with decay, death and loss. … Continue reading Poems for fall