Poetry: B.C. poet Rader writes with ease, immediacy


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MATT Rader of Comox Valley, B.C., maps astonishing points of confluence in his third book, A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno (Anansi, 75 pages, $23).

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/07/2011 (4090 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

MATT Rader of Comox Valley, B.C., maps astonishing points of confluence in his third book, A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno (Anansi, 75 pages, $23).

There is an ease and immediacy to Rader’s writing that feels as intellectually discerning as it is strangely serendipitous. Rader’s ear for “things that happened long before” illuminates the present moment with uncanny intersection.

A poignant sense of restraint also runs through Rader’s work, a contained rage such as in the series Reservations, in which the search for a room reveals a vacancy in national integrity for the environment. Rader never holds back in substance and is most admirable for bravely risking moments of personal terrain, which are many in this collection.

— — —

Writing from the “unceded territories of the Coast Salish people,” Proma Tagore’s politically minded debut, Language Is Not the Only Thing That Breaks (Arsenal Pulp Press, 68 pages, $15), is an act of rebellion.

Often working against the field of the page, breaking boundaries, visually and syntactically, Tagore creates interesting variations on what constitutes a poem’s whole. Yet there is an underlying sense of mistrust in language as Tagore tries to get to her story through a language that has colonized much of it since her immigration from India at age four: “Do words shelter or storm?” she asks.

The ache for home is most acutely translated when language is trusted and a more personal narrative is entered: “the texture of hands carved yellow by turmeric and the heat of the sun / skin raw as sugarcane thick as memory worn from keeping too much quiet.”

— — —

Moose-Jaw born Torontonian Daniel Scott Tysdal searches for “a new elegy to mourn the victims of a new breadth of murder” in his second collection, The Mourner’s Book of Albums (Tightrope, 128 pages, $19).

At heart, Tysdal is a collaborator. His chaotic assemblage of letters, clippings, photographs and sketches embody a speech for the unspeakable.

Pornographic treatment of a corpse, a friend’s suicide, a great uncle’s illness, a beloved’s tragic death are tended into raw narratives of repair: an origami crane unfolds into a cairn, a napkin soaks up sketches of inebriated grief.

There is a shattered quality to Tysdal’s poems that are violent and fragile, reckless and brave. Mourner’s is epitaphic, a book for “the souls we surrendered to snapshots to secure a more material external life.”

— — —

Another elegiac work, this one by the beloved Lorna Crozier of Victoria is Small Mechanics (McClelland & Stewart, 94 pages, $19), the poet’s 15th book of poems.

Queen of the snappy, illuminating lyric, Crozier uses her confidence in form to atone with uncomfortable subjects: the death of her parents and friends, loneliness, and the aging of herself.

Crozier is spry in diction and imagination. And though sometimes with a trajectory of predictability, it is never with disappointment that the poem unfolds from longing to insight, as in Angel of Grief:

“I find nothing in the drawers a daughter / shouldn’t see: two swimsuits, homemade, loosening around the legs, white cotton bras / and briefs she ordered from the catalogue, / a few with bare elastic showing, all intimate / and washed and washed — I couldn’t be sadder.”

The series of “stretched” ghazals, as Crozier has named them, offer a lively counterpoint. Crozier is almost giddy with imaginative unboundedness: “The lightning wasn’t lightning but a flying fox!”

And in this quip on bats: “how they / open and fold — invented fans. Held in the hand, they create the coolness of caves.”


Winnipeg poet Jennifer Still’s second collection, Girlwood, was published in the spring by Brick Books.

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