Sunday, May 9, 2004
Now she is blogging. Now she is sitting on the black couch listening to the sirens wail and the rain fall. Now she is thinking of oysters. Now she is wondering why this is worth sharing. Now she is thinking, how decipher what is worth reading? Who is to say? Sifters. She thinks we have become a nation of sifters. We dial up and sift through the wreckage. And what is the use of adding one more paragraph to the mother load? She supposes that soon she will find out.
The best part about entering Sina Queyras’ Unleashed (Toronto ON: BookThug, 2009) is immediately realizing that you are entering into a conversation—about writing, poetry, books, art as well as other subjects—and a highly intelligent one. Queyras’ Unleashed exists as a kind of “best of” her years of blogging over at lemonhound, and runs through a conversation that requires the reader to engage, enter, agree, disagree and even further. What good is a one-sided dialogue?
I first encountered Queyras as a poet, from the first of her four poetry collections, Slip (Toronto ON: ECW Press, 2001), and not much later, as a blogger worth paying attention to. It was another few years before we would actually meet, during our shared Alberta year—she as writer-in-residence at the University of Calgary, and myself as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta. The second in BookThug’s “Department of critical thought” series (after Nathalie Stephens’ 2008 title, At Alberta), Unleashed is a conversation propelled by questions, including ‘why aren’t there more women in critical dialogue,’ and about the very nature of the internet, when it comes to literary dialogue. Certainly the internet is less a linear set of dialogues than a series of central hubs, where links come and go.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Rae Armantrout, Next Life
At first glance it seems impossible that there is a Rae Armantrout in this bustling and overwrought, environmentally devastated century, in this overcrowded field of poetics, in the high and ranging ring of “project.” So clear are the lines, so airy and delighting in self awareness that one assumes they must come from a Dickinsonian hermit, holed up somewhere – very possibly in the last Redwood in a mall parking lot in California – peering down at us with a cutlass and an eyepiece.
In Unleashed, Queyras argues passionately and intelligently in notes, essays, interviews and pieces more immediate, writing out the world as she sees it, always questioning. This is Queyras fighting for what is rarely fought for—better writing, that women’s voices need to be hear and discussed more, more often, and more intelligently. She argues against the lyric’s representation of the only form of contemporary poetry. She argues for what needs to be argued. What is being unleashed here seems Queyras herself; there need to be more in Canada like Sina Queyras, unafraid of really using the internet to explore literature and art, explore poetry specifically and to talk critically about what is going on in those worlds that a number of us live in, perhaps too often uncritically. Why aren’t more writers using the internet for the same? In Canada, we have spots there and here, including Pearl Pirie, Michael Bryson and Spencer Gordon, a review here or there, but nothing really as further, pushing and ongoing as Queyras. I just hope she keeps going. I just hope others decide to take up the challenges she’s posited, and begin working the same.