Saturday, December 29, 2018

A ‘best of’ list of 2018 Canadian poetry books

Here I go again. And who am I to go against tradition? Well, the good traditions, anyway. Here is my annual list of the seemingly-arbitrary “worth repeating” (given ‘best’ is such an inconclusive designation), constructed from the list of Canadian poetry titles I’ve managed to review throughout the past year. This is my eighth annual list [see also: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011] since dusie-maven Susana Gardner originally suggested various dusie-esque poets write up their own versions of same, and I thank her both for the ongoing opportunity, and the prompting that started me off in the first place.

I’ve been far less active as a reviewer this past year than I may have wished, given I’m home with our two young ladies (Rose turned 5 in November, and Aoife turns 3 this coming April). Two reviews a week is still a pretty hefty goal, and there are multiple books that I haven’t been able to get into (yet, he says, rather optimistically). Although my mounds of not-yet-reviewed are beginning to overwhelm my home office. I’ve books by my desk I haven’t had nearly a chance to get to, including Laurie Fuhr’s Night Flying (Frontenac House Poetry), Gwen Benaway’s Holy Wild (Book*hug), and most likely multiple other titles I just can’t see at the moment. I haven’t even seen a copy yet of Deportment: The Poetry of Alice Burdick, edited by Alessandro Porco (WLU Press), or Flow: Poems Collected and New by Roy Miki, edited by Michael Barnholden, beholden, by Fred Wah and Rita Wong or Treaty 6 Deixis, by Christine Stewart (Talonbooks). Perhaps, given how long this list actually is, you might be okay with the fact that I didn’t get to as much as I might have liked (otherwise you might be here all day). You can’t even imagine how long it takes me to compile and post these things as it is (but there you go).

And, even though they aren’t poetry, there were a couple of non-fiction titles I caught this year that were quite remarkable, including Vancouver poet, editor, critic and troublemaker Stephen Collis’ Almost Islands: Phyllis Webb and the Pursuit of the Unwritten (Talonbooks) [see my review of such here] and Vancouver writer and editor Chelene Knight’s Dear Current Occupant: A Memoir (Book*hug) [see my review of such here]. Both books are totally wow (that’s my completely accurate and official descriptor, by the by, for those titles [patent pending]).

Either way, what a year. We lost more than a few this year, including David W. McFadden (we miss you, uncle dave) and Priscila Uppal (that one was tough) and David Helwig. And American poet Marthe Reed. And Stan Lee, of course.

You can see the full list here, over at the Dusie blog, in which I discuss books by Nikki Sheppy, Jack Davis, angela rawlings, Emma Healey, Mikko Harvey, George Bowering/George Stanley, Cameron Anstee, Suzanne Zelazo, Emilia Nielsen, Annick MacAskill, Robin Richardson, Eve Joseph, Eric Schmaltz, Caroline Szpak, Paul Vermeersch, Julie Bruck, David Bromige, Mark Truscott, Michael Turner, Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Allison Chisholm,  Elee Kraljii Gardiner and Julie McIsaac.


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