Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Heresies: The Complete Poems of Anne Wilkinson

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Heresies: The Complete Poems of Anne Wilkinson

Article excerpt

Dean Irvine (ed.), Heresies: the Complete Poems of Anne Wilkinson (1924-61) (Montréal: Véhicule Press, 2003), 320 pp. Paper. $18.95. ISBN 1-5506-5162-5.

Fixed forever 'among the foremost Canadian poets of her generation' (all citations are from Dean Irvine's introduction to the collection), Anne Wilkinson's verse denies fixidity in the canon of modernism. 'A major modernist poet in Canada' she may be, but her poetics elevate and float in a simultaneous and abstract non-specific place - a sensation of being in all places - a reflection of her own physical migration across spatial borders of Canada, the UK, US, and finally France. The nature of place is consistently questioned in frequent personifications of place: 'these acres breathe my family' (p. 51). It is therefore appropriate that this book is, in part, intended 'to commemorate a mid-century modernist and offer readers a chance to resituate her poetry in relation to late twentieth and early twenty-first century poetics'.

The place of meaning and language are also re-situated in the 'provocative play with clichés, unsettling their fixidity' and 'unfamiliar meanings dwelling in unfamiliar places, 'the woof of you/ Is ore' (p. 59) - a flexing of the formerly fixed. Genres too find themselves in unfamiliar places in the inclusion of lullabies in the collection, and the implicit relocation of status to these lullabies. Multiple poetic lineages can be detected in the lyric oxymoron of bubbling complexity that dwells inside a still effortless characteristic of Dickinson, alongside the bold flexibility of language akin to Dylan Thomas' work. …

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