Retail 2011: House of Anansi Press
Okay, okay. I understand that there hasn’t been a Retail (or anything) here in a bit. I had a Folk deadline. And then I caught a review assignment. And Dayjob got crazy busy. And there was some cage fighting, and then the Super Bowl. And I drank a bit. If it appeases you at all, I haven’t called my mother either.
But how can we not do Anansi? We can’t. So let’s. I count three books. Usually there’s four, so maybe I miscount, but let’s assume that’s not the case until someone shows me it is.
Title: A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno
Author: Matt Rader
Release Date: April
Timespan Since Last Book: Three years
What Bumf Say: “Wildflowers and weeds, newspaper archives and illness, hostels and hostiles, parenting and the shadowy history of grandparents, war and Renaissance paintings: Matt Rader’s unassuming, deeply spirited, and expansive poems show us again how contemporary lyric can go such a long way toward revealing our true homes to us at the moment we find ourselves most nakedly un-housed. Rader seeks out limits, borders, and frontiers — those mapped for us by authority, and the concomitant, interior shadow-lines we ourselves draw — in order to test their validity.”
What Google Say: The man has himself a website, which you can see right here. Beyond that, here’s a couple newer poems that I’d argue are pretty great. Beyond websites and poetry, Rader seems to be involved in a steady parade of delightfully hippy eco-things, such as this workshop that I probably would have taken if I lived out west. Speaking of out west, Matt and I are reading together in Vancouver on April 21st. So come.
Title: Methodist Hatchet
Author: Ken Babstock
Release Date: April
Timespan Since Last Book: Five years.
What Bumf Say: “Marooned in the shiftless, unnamed space between a map of the world and a world of false maps, these poems cling to what’s necessary from each, while attempting to sing their own bewilderment. The resultant chords of resignation, exhaltation, and despair are bracing. Carolinian forest echoes back as construction cranes in an urban skyline. Second Life returns as wildlife, as childhood. Even the poem itself — the idea of a poem — as a unit of understanding is shadowed by a great unknowing. Fearless in its language, its trajectories and frames of reference, Methodist Hatchet gazes upon the objects of its attention until they rattle and exude their auras of strangeness.”
What Blurb Say: Ken’s still rockin’ that Time Magazine “best thing to happen to Canadian poetry” quote from, like, 1999. When you’ve got one that good, you recycle…
What Google Say: The Griffin Trust has a YouTube channel, of course. What else? Ken’s done one of Lemon Hound’s excellent “On Reviewing” responses. Online poems from the new book are hard to come by, though if you have a library card I’d recommend checking out the Brick from a year ago, and The Fiddlehead from two issues back. Lots of good, surprisingly spacious and loopy lyric pieces to be found from Ken in both. I’ve already bought this book and brought it home with me in my mind.
Title: Oyama Pink Shale
Author: Sharon Thesen
Release Date: April
Timespan since last book: Five years.
What Bumf Say: “Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Sharon Thesen’s latest poetry collection, Oyama Pink Shale, is a sly, self-directed, yet joyously emancipatory work. By animating and voicing various moments and selves — indebted adult friend to artists, cold documentarian of a haunted sanitarium, engaged contemporary ticking off beauties, among others — Thesen’s poems show the transience of the earthly moment while convincing us of the thread of spirit that links all our lost bits and makes them possible. There’s an uncontainable buoyancy and lift in the lines and quick-shifting frames as they swerve toward the darker, more gravid complexities of contemporary life. Oyama Pink Shale exhibits a love for both the quotidian and the oblique angle, and a singular talent for the music of cumulative wonder. Writing at the peak of her powers, Thesen gives us her best work yet.”
What Google Say: This site called “Poem Hunter”, which looks like what all poetry websites will look like once the fascists finally win out, has an older poem I particularly like. There’s also something affecting about her honest, typical answers here to the usual set of honest, typical Poet Questions. I’m not sure about newer poems available online, but there has been a semi-recent (three years old) issue of The Capilano Review dedicated to her work, which rob mclennan sifts through here on his blog.
That’s it for now. Are you bored yet? I’m a bit bored. I’m basically going to just do these now as they come in or as publishers put out new catalogues. There’s a handful of presses I’m eager to hear from. Can it really only be three new titles from Anansi this year? I feel like it’s been four every year since forever. Somebody run ahead and check my math…