5 Reasons to Read Canadian Poetry

Oh, Canada....


Outside the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, Canada

On this July 1st (Canada Day) here are some reasons why reading contemporary Canadian poetry may be a good idea:


1. A diffused sense of identity, defined by the vast Canadian landscape, its shores, quiet lakes and woods


Introspection and reflection - two primary tools when writing poems - are invariably influenced by the scenery in which an author lives and moves - in this case the massive Canadian terra firma.


Here is how Richard Greene, depicts this emblematic scenery in Utopia:

“An immense acreage of solitude.

….

I am always here

On a hillside of quartz and juniper,

A ridge over water

Where the whales blow and dive”



2. Modernity, sophistication and elegance


It can be argued - whether we agree or not - that poetry is similar to fashion - tastes evolve quickly, modernity and sophistication take preeminence over trusted values on literary runways - which make this form of art ever so exciting.


In the rush to new aesthetics, the craft of many Canadian poets sets markers of timeless elegance:


"This is the one song everyone

would like to learn: the song

that is irresistible:


the song that forces men

to leap overboard in squadrons

even though they see beached skulls


the song nobody knows

because anyone who had heard it

is dead, and the others can’t remember."


Margaret Atwood, Siren Song




3. Innovation


In the book Eunoia by Christian Bŏk, a book for


"the new ennui

in you"


ideas hover over a terrain of linguistic experiments and the book's poetics, openly displayed, but hard to imitate, resides in the juggling of constraints in a jig-saw puzzle of lipograms:


“Minds grim with nihilism still find first light inspir-

ing. Mild pink in tint, its shining twilight brings bright

tidings which lift sinking spirits. With firm will, I finish

climbing, hiking till I find this inviting inn, in which

I might sit, dining. I thirst. I bid girls bring stiff drinks…”


Dionne Brand's verses build an atmosphere from fragments of images, and through this collage, new emotions emerge:



"would I have had a different life


failing this embrace with broken things,


iridescent veins, ecstatic bullets, small cracks


in the brain, would I know these particular facts,


how a phrase scars a cheek, how water


dries love out, this, a thought as casual


as any second eviscerates a breath"



4. A diversity of voices


It's easy to feel at home in the Canadian literary community, given the diversity of its voices, that bring new dimensions to poetry:


"in the night’s metal hum, we climb to the roof, feet heat-swollen. you give

me what I need and I still need it. contact. blackout. a missile seeking heat."


writes Jody Chan in her beautiful poem Flatline.



5. A connection with Canada's indigenous past and present


Canada's indigenous past and present is a tie that binds us all within the Canadian cultural climate.



Reading Canadian poetry brings to the forefront a heritage whose facets continue to fascinate:


"A human body is

reminiscent of a sentence

in that it too can taste like dust.

,,,,


Remember, a man is a fable

that does not convey a moral, I said."


Billy-Ray Belcourt, Bad Lover




A useful resource: Canadian Poetry Online.

______________________________________________________


Irina Moga is a Toronto based poetry aficionado.


#CanadaDay #Canadianpoetry #poetry











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