Sunday 1 November 2009

New on my bookshelf

Here's some more catching up with what's new on my bookshelf:

A Village Life by Louise Glück

This is a warm, open and generous collection -- generous in the sense that the poet seems genuinely engaged with her readers in a giving sense. These poems are gifts. They are meant to be enjoyed and re-read, and they reward this over and over. It's a tremendous book that I want everyone to read.

Made Flesh by Craig Arnold

Craig Arnold's disappearance earlier this year while researching volcanoes in Japan is a terrible tragedy. This book, published last year, demonstrates an expansive and scrupulous literary intelligence. There is much to admire here, and I especially liked Arnold's "Hymn to Persephone." We are richer for what he wrote, and poorer for what he didn't have the chance to write.

Joy Is So Exhausting by Susan Holbrook

Holbrook's approach to the poetic is steeped in the playful and the humourous. I like this. We need poetry to be fun as much as we need it to be the thousand other things it can be. For the most part, this book is delightful: lyrically sharp and poetically adventurous, but a few pieces did leave me cold. "POETsmart: Training for Your Poet," for example, takes a PETsmart advertisement for pet training and substitutes the word "poet" for "pet." The result is cute, but it works more on the level of a funny(ish) email forwarded to you by a relative. As a joke, it's old (so poets can be emotional and sloppy, okay and...?), and as poem, it's just (I'm sorry to say) trite.

Still, what's marvellous about this book is still marvellous. Read it for that.

Reticent Bodies by Moez Surani

Let's be thankful for Moez Surani. He has taken a multi-layered history and heritage and turned it into subject matter and backdrop for a delicately arranged collection of poetry that is engaged as much with its poetic pedigree as with its worldly one -- the result is a book that is enriched by its cultural relevence and its complex and unorthadox approach to lyric. Surani has that rare ability to write beautifully without ornament. His lyricism is stripped bare, unpacked, disassembled. It's effects are immediate. It's both stark and relevatory.

The Certainty Dream by Kate Hall

I really like this book. It wants me to think about epistimology, ontology and various psychological states without being all poncey about it. This is good. Hall can promise that nearly every line of her poetry will deliver something interesting, be it a startling image, a memorable sound, or a surprise or twist of some kind. The poems seem to invite the reader to read them, and if a challenge is issued, it's never adversarial to the reader's enjoyment. What more could you want?

1 comment:

Alessandro Porco said...

Nice little note on Moez, Paul -- glad you're enjoying it!