Skip to main content

Peacock on Canadian Poetry

Molly Peacock has blogged about the ways in which American and Canadian poets relate to their British peers. Now, blogs are always a bad place to locate someone's poetics, or deepest thoughts, but I for one was a little disappointed by this simplistic take on things. Now, I need to say, I am in the book she has series edited, Best Canadian Poems in English 2008, and am very proud to be; I admire her work immensely, as poet, and editor.

Still: I feel it's not enough to observe the cultural and aesthetic differences of American and Canadians, by commenting on the fact Canucks have the Queen on their money, or "stayed at home" with "mom and pop" while the noble Yanks broke free of the British empire. I think American poetry is a lot more complex than that (many American poets draw on British and European traditions) - and I know for sure British and Canadian poetry is far more complex. For one thing, Peacock doesn't really observe the biggest shadow of all hanging over her blog post: the American one.

America, despite suddenly being wonderful again, has bothered Canadians since day one, because its economic, political, and cultural clout is so impressive and often dominant. Canadians spend more time breaking away from America, without having to break away from Britain. On that point, few Canadians actually read much new British verse these days - though I agree that Babstock and Starnino do. Nor is "British poetry" monolithic - it has many streams that diverge, from the work of Prynne, to that of Lumsden.

It's ironic, to me, that Peacock hears so much Britishness in Canadian poetry, when what I tend to hear (being in Britain) is how American the Canadian poets tend to sound. Sure, Americans that have read some canonical poems by Brits - but still swaggeringly, robustly, loosely, American in tone and style. I for one think Canadian poetry would be wise to move back closer to some of the British and Irish roots of its own poetry, rather than locate all its force in the immediate geocultural facts of its environment. Poetry may come from local things, but style, form, and the conversation poems have with each other need to extend, broadly, beyond such limits, to enter the canons of the future - diverse and global as they look to be.
1 comment

Popular posts from this blog

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

SEXTON SHORTLIST!

Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:


THE BARBAROUS CENTURY, Leah Umansky
HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
GIMME THAT. DON’T SMITE ME, Steve Kronen
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER REDEPLOYMENTS, David McAleavey
AN AMERICAN PURGATORY, Rebecca Gayle Howell
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!