Sunday 21 December 2008

Best Canadian poetry of 2008

Poetry magazine asked me to recommend a couple of poetry titles published in 2008. One of my picks was Jeramy Dodds' Crabwise to the Hounds. It goes without saying that I think Shannon Stewart, Christopher Wiseman, and Walid Bitar's books should be on anybody's best-of roundup, but here, in no particular order, are ten other books of Canadian poetry I enjoyed this past year.

  • Noble Gas, Penny Black by David O'Meara: the best poems -- streetwise, nimble, and effervescent -- are a masterclass in formal and verbal precision. I'll be reviewing this book for Arc.
  • The Pangborn Defense by Norm Sibum: a series of fluent, irreverent, sourly-spirited epistles. A full-tilt performance.
  • Revolver by Kevin Connolly: possibly his best book. Connolly is an emerging master of doubt-ridden self-knowledge. Flawless writing mixed with elliptical, laid-back provocativeness.
  • The Debaucher by Jason Camlot: largely set in Montreal's Mile-end and rife with bawdy humour. The standout poem is a sonnet-sequence on the late Montreal poet Robert Allen.
  • Palilalia by Jeffery Donaldson: inspired by his own Tourettes-like speech impediment (Palilalia is "an involuntary repetiton of words, phrases or sentences"), Donaldson's poems are marked by linguistic wildness, bitingly beautiful perceptions and mordant wit.
  • The Day in Moss by Eric Miller: lushly tactile and baroquely cerebral meditations on nature.
  • Jeremiah, Ohio by Adam Sol: A book-length urban fable about a prophet and an everyman on a road-trip to New York city. Told in alternating voices and a high-low mix of street slang and biblical registers. Somewhat reminiscent of Eric Ormsby's Araby, I often found myself laughing out loud at the boldness of it all.
  • Chameleon Hours by Elise Partridge: a superb follow-up to her debut, Fielder's Choice. Agitated descriptions of mortality expressed through the gritted teeth of impeccable craft
  • Living Things by Matt Rader: I found some of the wordplay a little stiff, but Rader's book is full of arresting images that seem to reinvent everything he looks at.
  • The Watchmaker's Table by Brian Bartlett: A series of inventive, subtle and deeply cutting speculations on the passage of time. In any other country, Bartlett would have a more substantial reputation.

1 comment:

Paul Vermeersch said...

Oh my! Reading your list reminds me of books I forgot to include on my own list. For example, how I neglected to include Adam Sol's book, I'll never know. I loved it. And many others, too. Thanks for posting these, Carmine.