Retail 2010: McClelland & Stewart, Ltd.

We continue with our series of previews of new titles from the nation’s armada of erstwhile poetry publishers with a visit to Vox Pop’s own home turf at McClelland & Stewart. M &S is coming back from a year spent publishing only one new book of poetry by a living author with a full slate of four. These books are also available as electronic downloads, though curiously at the same price point as their physical manifestations (thus valuing all extra-textual contributions to the book, including those from printers and typesetters, at $0.00?) Either way, it’s a mighty exciting list. Four must-haves, methinks.

Author: Dionne Brand
Title: Ossuaries
Date: March
Collection Number: Tenth (!)
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “There are multiple strands in Ossuaries–the narrative of a woman fleeing, the sorting of the bones, the museums of spectacle that the poet visits collecting them, and the search for their final place–and always the political urgency and incantatory lyric intensity for which Brand is justly celebrated.”
Other Notes: Regular readers will know that I was something of a fan of Brand’s last book. No sign of specifics on what Ossuaries might contain, though. That bumf above doesn’t give away too much. I did, however, read a pretty great poem that may or may not be from this new collection in the summer (Issue #83) incarnation of Brick. Whatever the content of the new book might be, Toronto’s poet laureate will always have my attention.

Author: Melanie Siebert
Title: Deepwater Vee
Date: March
Collection Number: Le Debut!
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “A stunning poetic debut that explores some of Canada’s most threatened waterways–places both altered and untamed–and tracks their currents of history and myth.”
Other Notes: Siebert had a pretty great poem in a semi-recent issue of The Walrus, and is a product of UVic’s Creative Writing program. Most interestingly, she is a professional river guide and relied on that work history for many of the poems in Deepwater Vee. It’s been a few years now since the West Coast came out with another really great collection of ecopoetry, so I’m eager to hear from new voices.

Author: John Steffler
Title: Lookout
Date: March
Collection Number: Sixth
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “The poems embrace the limestone barrens on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula and the poet’s personal life, the end of a marriage, the beginnings of new love. There is also a series of poems about his parents’ struggle to deal with his mother’s Alzheimer’s during the last year of her life.”
Other Notes: It’s been twelve big years since That Night We Were Ravenous, and though there hasn’t been any new collections, Steffler’s been busy. He put out a selected volume and served as the country’s poet laureate. This book looks like it’ll be a compendium of his “Newfoundland period”, and I’m excited to see what Steffler can do with it. He makes that personal/anecdotal thing fresher and more memorable than most of the rest of the country. Boy howdy, I can’t believe these books are all coming out on the same day from the same press. Go team.

Author: Paul Vermeersch
Title: The Reinvention of the Human Hand
Date: March
Collection Number: Fourth
Editor-Approved Bumfspeak: “Paul Vermeersch’s new book of poems illuminates the sometimes unexpected yet profound consequences of the collision between technology and the natural world, between the evolutionary process and the human condition.”
Other Notes: One of two new collections we’ll look at in this tour written by somebody who shares an apartment with this blogger, Vermeersch #4 comes boasting an incredible cover design and five years of prep since his last book, Between the Walls. I’ve been lucky to see this puppy dog in manuscript form, and I think it’s the best work of his career. There’s a section of the long poem “Ape” archived online at the Globe and Mail, complete with an introduction from yours truly.

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