Ken Babstock’s Swivelmount (Coach House, 118 pages, $22) contains a most precise and concise distillation of modern life: "Event, word, news, aggregator, new news — / waking distraught, we climb through hoops / of pale sweat toward bed. None the wiser."

Elsewhere in Babstock’s poems, we find ourselves "Dislodged by mutating / flus, mutating viruses, the dread mutability / microscopic and eyeless." The poems combine a technical mastery of craft with the precision of steel for braided images that twist and coil into each other.

Babstock offers stark, dark lines that shift with sudden sharpness from utterly impersonal coldness to small, quiet introspection.

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As everyone knows, if you meet your doppleganger then you have to kill it. James Lindsay’s Double Self-Portrait (Wolsak and Wynn, 112 pages, $18) meditates on this well-worn advice, and on his manner of constructing poems from the stuff of life and fancy.

One poem opens by interrogating the limits of the human imagination: "Nine times out of ten the most alien organism / humans can imagine is still humanoid / in appearance, still wants to talk." Others offers the opposite, exploding out from limits into imagistic feasts before crashing back down to consider the very manner of its own creation.

"Crickets as critics of sunsets … // … Natural like the beginning / of this poem felt. But so much has happened since beginning." Dense but subtle, and conversational but ponderous, Lindsay’s poems accomplish a great deal in a short span.

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Gary Barwin’s Ampers&thropocene (Penteract, 56 pages, $25) offers full-colour visual poetry that uses the ampersand as its core design inspiration (and element).

A gorgeous, strange, visual feast from front to back, the book is a perfect marriage of a bizarre Canadian author and a brilliant British publisher. Each page offers some weird burst of colourful patterning using an ampersand (the "&" symbol) as the basis for a visual poem.

Barwin’s work recalls the Canadian icon bpNichol crossed with the more modern concrete poetry icon Derek Beaulieu (who has collaborated on other books with Barwin).

Most importantly, the collection captures Barwin’s unique sense of play and style with a bright burst of blasting light.

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Angela Carr’s Without Ceremony (Book*hug, 90 pages, $18) offers mostly poetic series that combine powerful imagery with essayistic philosophy and memoir-like storytelling.

Carr combines all these differing modes and disparate topics with ease and glamour. "Heraclitus says all things are in flux and there is no unity / but in flux. In America, we plummet or flourish."

Although complicated in their structures, the poems read in a breezy, clear manner with a conversational tone. At times they even achieve a calm, clear beauty: "This is confessional: / I read because / I forget easily / and I want to taste / all the stars in a clear night sky."

Jonathan Ball’s newest book is the short story collection The Lightning of Possible Storms. For more see