I’m not gonna lie, getting into the swing of reading so much took more energy than I thought it would. Comparably, during the political theory part of my undergraduate, I was by page count reading so much more and it was even, arguably, denser… but poetry is demanding. I don’t really know why this turned out to be surprising.

From 1-8 September, I read:

  1. Wanda Campbell’s LOOKING FOR LUCY and KALAMKARI AND CORDILLERA
  2. Jill Battson’s ASHES AND BONES ARE DUST
  3. Rita Joe’s THE BLIND MAN’S EYES
  4. Lori Cayer’s DOPAMINE BLUNDER
  5. Margaret Atwood’s TWO-HEADED POEMS
  6. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s ISLANDS OF DECOLONIAL LOVE (*just the songs, not the stories)
  7. Laura Clarke’s DECLINE OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
  8. Sarah Tolmie’s TRIO
  9. Margo Wheaton’s THE UNLIT PATH BEHIND THE HOUSE
  10. Heather MacLeod’s THE LITTLE YELLOW HOUSE
  11. M. NourbeSe Philip’s SHE TRIES HER TONGUE, HER SILENCE SOFTLY BREAKS

I had planned, but did not read:

  1. Eleonore Schronmaier’s DUST BLOWN SIDE OF THE JOURNEY because I simply did not have time;
  2. Sue Goyette’s A BRIEF REINCARNATION OF A GIRL because it has yet to arrive via inter-library loan; and,
  3. Lindsay Marshall’s CLAY POTS AND BONES because… it turns that the poet’s whole name is Lindsay Robert Marshall. Oops. I made the assumption that “Lindsay” is an arbitrarily feminine name. My library loan on the book won’t run out until the middle of November, so I’ll put it at the bottom of my TBR pile.

Current score: 11/13

Under the cut, find out what I admired about my favourites.

On the list of things I’ve learned: I’m not gonna try to follow a daily schedule again because holy hell that was frustrating and plain-old anxiety inducing. I was pretty constantly haunted by the feeling of not being good enough—and there were poetry books all over the house. There were multiple books in my bed and under my pillows, trapped between the couch cushions, forgotten on the kitchen counter, taking up too much room in my school bag. On the one hand, it’s nice to be surrounded by books. On the other, it’s not nice to feel like the poets in their little pictures are shaming you from their stuck-in-time eyes.

Wanda’s works are intensely ekphrastic and cling to both the art-histories and life-histories that inspire her. Rita and Jill were almost prosiac; narrative and charged in the sense that their poems were like having an intimate conversation with the speaker. Lori played with white space and punctuation in an echo of e. e. cummings. Leanne took a very different approach to everything—Islands was a steady mix of verse and prose, English and Nishnaabeg, poetic re-creation and stark memoir. M. NourbeSe took everything standard about page presentation and blasted it to little bits, filling her book instead with pockets and slants and streaks of text that took enjambed meaning and sonic units to new levels. Laura took her narrative conceit (primary protagonist: a dead (?) mule; primary antagonist: the speaker as not-quite-human) to expound a strange eco-romantic, workplace harassments, and distinctly Canadian series of emotional knots (see again: dead mule/s). Atwood used the familial, the dead, and the viciously survivalist to relocate the violences—both received and given—that Canadian womanhood witnesses and enacts.

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