Skip to main content

Review: Creamsickle Stick Shivs

John Stiles, pictured here, whose work I included in my recent survey of the best Canadian poets under the age of 40 in New American Writing, has come out with his second collection of poems from Insomniac Press lately - Creamsickle Stick Shivs.

The title refers to the evil lurking in the hearts of choirboys everywhere, and the third section chronicles the darkest thoughts of a poet working in a Church Charity Office, who masks his despair and disgust with Richard III's eloquence.

This is a very strong collection. Anyone who wants to know where Canadian poetry is going to go in the next decade should read it. More to the point, it is an exceptionally honest, bracing, funny, angry and raw book - and anyone who is tired of reading poetry that is bloodless or constrained should turn to Stiles to have their socks blown off - the man writes like we sometimes imagine The Beats did - only better - he has a sort of Henry Miller swagger, and tenderness. What I say about Higgins holds true for him, too - his voice, his style, are so unique as to offer a challenge to the idea that poetry has a sanctioned diction whatsoever.

Stiles - who originates from rural Nova Scotia (Port Williams) - opens the collection with a section that presents dramatic monologues in stark, challenging, and utterly musical local patois - and their skewed, drunken lilt is Faulknerian - these are dispossessed lovelorn luckless folk, passionate as all get out, and roaring to grab a chunk of life.

There are a few poems in this collection that variously slip between language poetry, and the purest form of self-confession possible, and the cracks in the vase are hard to find. Well-wrought? Hell, no. Powerful as a poke in the eye? Yessir. This one is great.

http://www.insomniacpress.com/title.php?id=1-897178-18-2

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Michael Horovitz Has Died

Michael Horovitz  was a wonderful, funny, entertaining, intelligent, generous and visionary poet and a significant part of the British poetry scene post-war. His death is sad and a true loss, but his spirit and many projects and poems will live on. 

SWIFT REPORT 2021

My report will be brief this year - I am grateful to be alive. 2021 was a very tough year for a lot of people - and 2022 looks to be also very challenging. Up until December, 2021, I would have said the best of the year was keeping the Eyewear publishing company going so it could reach its 10th year (2022), and therefore keeping a small good team in work; and 100s of books in print. Personally, hiking in Northern Ireland/the North of Ireland, and doing wild swimming, and training with Al Beard, and Wimbledon, would have been summer highlights; plus great sporting events, and the English almost winning the Euros... Then, a few days before Christmas, I went into the hospital for heart failure; I have a large blood clot on my heart, and my heart was only working 17% or so. Now it is up to 22%. I am off work, and still seriously ill, on 15 or more tablets a day. My family is worried, it is a super worrying time. I am focused on recovery, doing what must be done, staying calm as possible. I

WHO CARES WHO THE NEXT JAMES BOND WILL BE WHEN WE HAVE CRAIG TODAY?

WHO CARES WHO THE NEXT JAMES BOND WILL BE WHEN WE HAVE CRAIG TODAY? i.m. Douglas Barbour who died yesterday. Been a while since I thought a poem was a pop song Instead of a Walter ppk to the heart of the superstructure, Interrogating the very concept of linguistic designer thoughts; A poet never changes their spots, just their t-shirts, the ideas At the core of a human are not easily ironed out with ironic References to transhumanism, or Mao; no, we can smell fear Of losing the bank vault to the Beagle Boys, we know when Herr Nobel really likes the boy with the bowl cut, or the red lingerie. It’s a deontological low point when Django Unchained may be A cogent argument against slavery, and history isn’t; but That’s a filmic nostalgic revenge fantasy; we have to save A planet from ourselves with only The Poetics, and conflictual Arguably biological imperatives driving cleavage between The nation-states and free-floating transnationals in the way; We know more words than we can fathom wa