After Sorrow, What? (Canadian Literature)

Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review is an academic journal published by the University of British Columbia. Since its founding in 1959 by George Woodcock, the journal has become a leading one in the field of Canadian writings. Recently, Canadian Literature published an omnibus review I did on Genevieve Lehr’s “Stomata” (Brick Books, 2016), Alyda Faber’s “Dust or Fire” (Goose Lane Editions, 2016), and Laura Broadbent’s “In on the Great Joke” (Coach House Books, 2016). The article examines the ways in which these three poets push language to capture trauma, grief, empathy, and rapture.

“Poetry often tends toward the “unsayable”: the intensely personal or the radically spiritual. The poet stretches and strains language in his or her attempt to put these evasive subjects into words. But language is fragile. Words “slip, slide, [and] perish,” as T. S. Eliot writes, and frequently crack under the pressures of articulating the inarticulate. Three recent collections of poetry call on word, syntax, and form to perform in the domains where they most often break down: trauma and grief, empathy and rapture. While at times their poetry-making ends in banal sentiments or trite verse, at others, it reaches the unsayable with craft and sensitivity.”

You can find the article here. The review will reach print in the near future.

Header Image: “Lunker” (1997) by Peter Doig via Tate.

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