POETRY: Méira Cook marries myth, modern


Advertise with us

Méira Cook's Monologue Dogs (Brick, 80 pages, $20) dives into the waters of folklore, with poems ranging from Bible tales to Greek legends to the Brothers Grimm.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:

All-Access Digital Subscription

$1.50 for 150 days*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/08/2015 (2591 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Méira Cook’s Monologue Dogs (Brick, 80 pages, $20) dives into the waters of folklore, with poems ranging from Bible tales to Greek legends to the Brothers Grimm.

Winnipeg’s Cook playfully marries myth and the modern. In one poem, a young Eve beds her beau in a pickup truck just off the highway.

Cook braids together dense, rich images. Young Eve also ponders a “Library of Imaginary Books” where “poems ripen, wet and lush, / as time-lapse fruit inside their husks.”

Another poem describes the sky, elegantly, as a place “where nothing grows.”

Cook plays with the monologue form throughout, her mythic speakers sparking to life to tell their dramatic tales in a charming, engaging, vivacious collection.

— — —

Joanne Epp’s Eigenheim (Turnstone, 110 pages, $17) is an assured debut, and its opening poems achieve a dreamy lightness that belies their craft and care.

The poems of Winnipeg’s Epp have a relaxed pace and offer imagery as clear as glass; the night, for instance, is “a solid thing that would still let her fall,” and “kids feel August stretching out.”

Epp, an assistant church organist, manages a suite of strong poems about playing music — an impressive feat given the difficulty of describing not only the sound but the sense of this activity. In one poem, playing piano becomes akin to “running downhill too fast / wind shoving at my back” — an earlier line, almost like a prayer, says “Make the lightning come closer.”

Eigenheim means “one’s own home,” and Epp certainly feels at home here in this impressive first book.

— — —

Ben Ladouceur’s Otter (Coach House, 80 pages, $18) joins a handful of excellent and explicit books that bring a gay male perspective to the poetry world (a similar standout that Otter sometimes recalls is Daniel Zomparelli’s Davie Street Translations).

Ladouceur’s poems are slick and inventive. There’s a paradoxically thudding elegance to a line like “We wrote letters, until we didn’t.” He also shines in a more conventional poetic register, with an almost (and perhaps ironic) biblical tone: “When winter arrives / the mosquitoes will expire / and material will cover the bodies of men.”

Otter is a startling debut and a dense, rewarding read.

— — —

“Enough philosophy. Greatly / I have coffeed and greatly / misunderstood,” writes Kayla Czaga in For Your Safety Please Hold On (Nightwood, 96 pages, $19). Another strong debut filled with wonderful, sparkling gems (such as turning “coffee” into a verb), Czaga’s book displays a remarkable confidence and range.

Czaga’s most impressive poems are modelled on the work of Gertrude Stein, a mimicry many poets try (most fail). Czaga couples her Stein-esque lines with a feminist critique: “A girl never wants to woman. A girl is kicked / and killed in wild, howling womanhood. / […] A girl turns another girl / womanish to stay small and wanted and win.”

Most of Czaga’s poems are more formally conservative but no less impressive. Highlights include an elegy for Victoria Soto, a teacher killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, and A Poem for Jeff listing all of the things in the world that are f–ked. Spoiler alert: Pretty much everything is f–ked — except this book.


Winnipeg English professor Jonathan Ball (@jonathanballcom) lives online at www.JonathanBall.com, where he writes about writing the wrong way.


Updated on Saturday, August 22, 2015 7:44 AM CDT: Formatting.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us