May 31, 2020

Winnipeg
20° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

POETRY: Méira Cook marries myth, modern

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/8/2015 (1744 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.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

History

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

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us