Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Open Field: 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Open Field: 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets

Article excerpt

Open Field: 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets, edited by Sina Queyras. Persea, July 2005. $18.95 paper

How many Canadian poets can most readers of this journal name? Margaret Atwood? She's here and represented by at least one noteworthy poem, "The Loneliness of the Military Historian." Anne Carson? She's here, represented by eight prose "short talks" from the 1992 volume of that name. Michael Ondaatje? He's here with a gnomic sequence called "The Nine Sentiments." But beyond this famous triad? Perhaps the more experimentally inclined might recognize Christian Bök, whose five ingenious prose riffs, each one built of words using only the same respective vowel, present the most interesting of many language experiments.

But even this much acquaintance still leaves twenty-six other poets, most but not all of whom have some affiliation with colleges or universities, like their counterparts south of the border. The foreword by Molly Peacock and introduction by Sina Queyras both understandably reach for generalizing formulations about Canadian poetry, which people skeptical of such generalizations may not necessarily endorse, generalizations such as "Could it be that Canadians might have an edge when it comes to listening to the still-wild voices? …

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