Sunday, 6 January 2013

Time to Think About First Day

The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2012, ed. Carmine Starnino, Tightrope Books, will challenge me and my students, starting tomorrow (in their case, yesterday in mine).
"[S]aying something true about life" (from his Introduction) we will either look for or not, or find or not. Starnino offers that phrase as half of a shorthand--"a game" being the other half--in his sketch of the range of Canadian poetry, at least as surveyed via "54 print and on-line magazines", as Molly Peacock's Prologue has it. (Peacock is the Series Editor of the Best  series, now in its 5th outing.)
Like many of my students, I can buy in to versions of that range, which may change with every poem. These are first-year students, for whom a poem, any poem at all, offers an invitation to either quit before reading or smother with interpretations, used ones, worn out.
Of course I generalize here. One poem will generate fresh energy in the body and mind of one reader. "Also a twilight everything turns from:" (Susan Gillis, "Solstice Night"), for example, will take us from a conventional, if fresh enough, depiction of snow on a lone house on a winter evening to "We're burning / everything we have", from the last two lines, which I for one will read as a way to read.
And in other poems the games will make us play.

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