Tuesday, August 04, 2009

On first reading "Open Wide a Wilderness"

Wow, Canada just keeps getting more and more conservative.

Donna Haraway apparently never made it to Canada.

We still think feminist poetics is a poetry of the body.

We think that the avant garde, visual, sound, experimental and/or conceptual poetry worlds aren't speaking about nature.

There is some core sense of looking that is unique to Canada. Squint and you can see a faint strand of it here.

Sonnet L'Abbe has a more generous take on this anthology here in the G&M.

To be fair to the editor, Nancy Holmes, it's a powerful selection. L'Abbe suggests its one flaw is it stops too soon. I would argue it doesn't read widely enough even if people such as Dennis Lee, Fred Wah, Christopher Dewdney and Erin Moure are included.

On a positive note, some surprises, delightful ones. I have never heard of Harry Thurston but "Dragging Bottom," was a pleasure to read. Eric Ormsby's "Wood Fungus," has a regal feel, and I like the turns with the image. Anne Compton's "Trees in Summer," has a wonderful directness to it, I like the voice, even if it seems--as so many of these poems do--almost naively positioned in the center of the world. Quick, random list of other pleasures, "Dennis Cooley's "how crow brings spring in," Gwendolyn MacEwen's "Dark Pines Under Water" evokes a certain moment in Canadian history, the moment when the geography of Ontario became for me, synonymous with symbolic Canadian imagery... I always love John Thompson...and I have to admit I have not finished reading. More to come.


Chris said...

As I have finally gotten around to reading her, I would really love to hear you explain (or, rather, just talk about) Haraway (and/or her feminism) more. But, you know, over drinks or something.

happenin fish said...

Haraway definitely hasn't made it to Canada- have you ever tried to purchase one of her books here? I get blank looks when I ask.

And so, Nature/culture's boundaries are represented intact.

But Canada hasn't made it to Haraway either. I think she'd be quite keen on Dewdney, and Robertson, and Queryas, and Rawlings, and Legris, and Mouré... etc.

Lemon Hound said...

In my experience people understand Haraway more than they think they do. And while she is dated in many ways, it's still a basic tool for thinking about nature/culture.

Happen', I agree tere is a lot of great Canadian work that Haraway would appreciate--Dewdney, et al, and even lyric poetry in Canada often has a more complex edge, as you note with Robertson, Moure, etc.