Friday 23 April 2010

Spring Poetry Tra-La

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be hosting a great evening next Thursday featuring poets from Gaspereau, Signal and Anansi.

Come hear Michael Harris (Circus), Susan Briscoe (The Crow's Vow), Michael Lista (Bloom), Johanna Skibsrud (I Do Not Think That I Could Love a Human Being) and Paul Tyler (A Short History of Forgetting) read from their new books.

See you there? Hope so.

April 29, 2010 at 7:00 pm
Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore
201 Bernard Ouest
Montreal, Quebec

Sunday 4 April 2010

The Jig is Up

Zach Wells sniffs out some execrable prose in the Lampert jury bumpf.

This isn't a hard exercise: crappy poetry criticism is maybe the lowest of CanLit's low hanging fruit. In my six years editing the poetry review section for Books in Canada, I learned that most Canadian poets -- especially the new crew of academicized eco-philosophers -- are congenitally unable to write clear, crisp sentences. Anita Lahey touches on this issue in her mixed review of Anne Simpson's The Marram Grass (unavailable online).

W.S. Piero, in a notebook essay for Poetry magazine, explains what bad prose reveals about poets.

"I meet a successful middle-aged poet curious, or bemused, about the prose I write (have written for as long as I've written poetry) as if it were a subtropical, carnivorous plant. I never knew any better. The poets I read early (Shelley, Keats of the letters, Leopardi, Yeats) developed prose styles, so I took it on faith that a poet had to be a writer. It's best to do it mostly for money -- resistance sharpens things. Some shy from putting prose out there because it's a giveaway. You can't fake it. It reveals quality of mind, for better or worse, in a culture where poems can be faked. Find a faker and ask him or her to write anything more substantial than a jacket blurb, and the jig is up."