Thursday, 27 December 2012

Monkey Ranch

Julie Bruck's GG-winning Monkey Ranch was, for some, one of the best poetry books of the year—a return to form after a 13-year interruption. Stewart Cole, however, lay outs some of his concerns with the book:
"When thinking of traditions or poets to which I might ally Bruck’s work (besides the lineated near-prose that characterized much of the dominant mode of Canadian poetry from the 1960s to at least the 1990s), I settle on Elizabeth Bishop, who serves as the subject of a poem in both The End of Travel and Monkey Ranch. Indeed, Bruck's prosy free verse stands above so much similar work because of her Bishopesque powers of observation and phrasal care. On the other hand, however, Bruck is like Bishop purged of not just her formal virtuosity—Bishop excelled at even the most difficult fixed forms, while Bruck doesn’t attempt them—but her eccentricity: nothing in Bruck's body of work is as unabashedly strange as 'The Man-Moth,' for instance, nor does she favour the sort of daring rhetorical leaps that lift 'The Fish,' for example, into its 'rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!' moment of transcendence. Instead, whether formally, rhetorically, emotionally, or politically, Bruck's work tends toward the safe route, rarely off-putting readers with any outlandishness, but lacking the sense of hazard that marks the artform at its best. To use a sports analogy: Bruck’s poetry often reads like it's playing not to lose."

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