Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Lazy Bastardism Reviewed II

Brian Palmu is full of praise for the book, but takes issue with a few things, chiefly my thesis for why Montreal poetry is so distinctive. I think he underestimates the breadth of the code-switching that occurs in the city, but his point is well-taken:
"Speaking of disagreements, the biggest one I have anywhere in Lazy Bastardism comes out of this (mostly quoted) paragraph in the [Michael] Harris’ essay:“But this also reflects the culturally synoptic condition of most Montreal poets, who are constantly forced, on a daily level, to shift between different registers and syntaxes and thus are more open to cross-influences than they might have been had they lived in Toronto or Vancouver or Calgary. ... The city itself, in other words, lures our poems out of the verbal ghetto of what Solway has called ‘Standard Canadian Average’ “. Now this is an argument that is both ignorant and needlessly defensive. I’ve lived a half-century in Vancouver. It is now slightly over 50% Asian, and many of those immigrants have retained their first languages. But it’s not a new development, and it doesn’t pertain to one dialect or ethnicity. Growing up as a wee ankle-biting critic-in-formation, my friends were Fijians, Italians, Slavs, Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, and Sikhs (as well as a few pasty-faced Brits and Scandinavians). I’m sure I picked up some hidden nuances in all the different cadences, syntactical emphases, cuss-vocabulary expansion, and emotional variance. And I’m sure many in Toronto could say the same since it’s a multicultural pot of stew. So Montreal’s situation in this regard is hardly unique."

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