Sunday, May 11, 2008

Alison Calder on Lahey and Canadian poetry

A fine review of Anita Lahey's book by Alison Calder. I wrote about Lahey's book in an essay in Gulf Coast Review, and discussed Calder's book a few weeks back. They are both fine poets with strong books in the past year, so intriguing to see what the one says of the other. I offer you the end of Calder's review:
Lahey is a competent writer, shown by her skill with line breaks, by her publications, and by the awards she has won. But the collection has a depressing sameness to it, a sameness attributable not only to Lahey, but symptomatic of a larger body of writing by young Canadian poets. Here are the ekphrastic verses that seek to animate paintings; here are the several-poems-written-on-a-particular-theme sections. Because the voice she uses is so invariable, whether she’s animating a figure hanging laundry, a World War II battlefield, or an aging aunt in Cape Breton, the specific details she works with seem to disappear into vagueness. All these characters seem, improbably, to be wrestling with the same problems.
Good point. I suspect there are poets who want to hide away in sameness.

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