Wednesday, 18 October 2006

The Encantadas

Canada's most illustrious literary prizes are said to be the Governor General's (GGs). This year the poetry list features a few very good collections, including Ken Babstock's Air Stream Land Yacht, which I reviewed for the Globe and Mail this summer. In the review I suggested it was one of, if not the, best books written by a member of this generation of younger Canadian poets. Glad to see the GG jury agreeing with me.

Sadly, the best book of poetry published this year by an older Canadian poet, The Encantadas, by Robert Allen, was not selected.

Allen is one of Anglo-Quebec's greatest writers of the 20th century - as a novelist, essayist, short story writer, and poet his literary contribution to Montreal culture over the last 40 years has been nearly unparalleled, and, when one stops to consider his additional work as creative writing teacher, as editor of Matrix, as series editor for DC Books and as a mentor to several generations of poets that includes Stone, Camlot, Fiorentino and McGimpsey, his whole life's work and career has been little short of extraordinary. He's the natural heir to Dudek, in terms of generosity, and commitment to small press work, but with much more style and linguistic brilliance. Passages in The Encantadas (as well as his novels) approach genius, in the sense that Nabokov is said to have possessed that gift. The Encantadas is published by Conundrum Press. ISBN 1-894994-17-5.
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