Author Archives: Douglas Barbour

Guy Gavriel Kay’s tone poem of remembrance & loss in an alternate Renaissance.

Guy Gavriel Kay. A Brightness Long Ago. (Viking 2019). If, like me, you are a fan of Kay’s historical novels set in another world so like & unlike our own, & especially if you enjoyed the earlier Sarantine Mosaic & … Continue reading

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Kathleen Wall & Veronica Geminder’s ekphrastic collaboration

Kathleen Wall & Veronica Geminder. Visible Cities. (University of Calgary Press 2018). How to write ekphrasis? There’s no easy answer, but Kathleen Wall has approached the problem through collaboration, in the case of Visible Cities, with her daughter, Veronica Geminder, … Continue reading

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Kelly Shepherd constructs a magpie nest of a text about Edmonton

Kelly Shepherd. Insomnia Bird: Edmonton poems. (Thistledown Press 2018). With Insomnia Bird, Kelly Shepherd establishes himself as Edmonton’s chief bricoleur, honouring & copying the bird of the title, the magpie Edmontonians know so well, with its huge nests built out … Continue reading

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Jenna Butler’s visionary voyage into the Arctic.

Jenna Butler. Magnetic North: Sea Voyage to Svalbard. (University of Alberta Press 2018). Although published in UofAPress’s ‘Wayfarer’ travel narrative series, Magnetic North reads as a sequence of meditational prose poems exploring one extraordinarily sensitive creative mind’s encounter with the … Continue reading

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Michael Ondaatje’s extrardinary play of warlight & shadow

Michael Ondaatje. Warlight. (McClelland & Stewart 2018). Set in early post-WW2 London to begin with, told from the point-of-view of a young man in his late 20s writing in 1959, Warlight takes up the tropes of mystery, spy thriller, & … Continue reading

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Jennifer Still plays the silences

Jennifer Still. Comma. (BookThug 2017). As a sign of just how large & crowded the poetry scene, just in Canada, is, although she has published 2 previous books & been nominated for many awards, Comma is my first encounter with … Continue reading

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Stephen Cain raises his ante & his anti- in False Friends

Stephen Cain. False Friends. (BookThug 2017). In his first full length collection in over a decade, & playing off the multilingual opposition contained in his title, Stephen Cain offers hifalutin (& low) games, lots of play on & with various … Continue reading

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Firebreaks: John Kinsella’s eocpoetic homecoming.

John Kinsella. Firebreaks. (Norton 2016). The Australian writer, John Kinsella, has earned an international reputation as a poet both progressive & traditional, exploring innovative or more conventional forms, depending on what each book ends up being, ‘about’. Firebreaks, his latest, … Continue reading

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For Claire Kelly, maunder is an active verb

Claire Kelly. Maunder. (Palimpsest Press 2017). According to The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, ‘maunder’ refers to both speaking & walking, the former ‘in a dreamy or rambling manner,’ the latter ‘listlessly or idly.’ Well, the poems in Maunder, Clair Kelly’s first … Continue reading

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Sandra Ridley does the elegy as dark construction

Sandra Ridley. Silvija. (BookThug 2016). About midway through this volume of shorter serial poems making up a single longer one, we read: ‘Decide what to keep.’ In many ways this is the mandate of the whole book, a book the … Continue reading

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