Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Poets Talk: Conversations with Robert Kroetsch, Daphne Marlatt, Erin Mouré, Dionne Brand, Marie Annharte Baker, Jeff Derksen, and Fred Wah

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Poets Talk: Conversations with Robert Kroetsch, Daphne Marlatt, Erin Mouré, Dionne Brand, Marie Annharte Baker, Jeff Derksen, and Fred Wah

Article excerpt

P. Butling and S. Rudy, Poets Talk: Conversations with Robert Kroetsch, Daphne Marlatt, Erin Mouré, Dionne Brand, Marie Annharte Baker, Jeff Derksen, and Fred Wah (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2005), xvii + 197 pp. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 0-8886-4431-0.

This is a lively, thought-provoking, highly recommendable collection of interviews from the 1990s - presenting indeed 'seven of the most innovative and socially conscious poets writing today' (p. xi). These Canadian authors offer a multivoiced and fairly collective poetics that bespeaks the social and artistic impulses behind and the changing forms and contents in poetry over the last three decades. To varying degrees, all of the interviewees have been or still are involved in community work; their strategies for social critique through writing have instructive appeal not only for emerging poets: Dionne Brand, for instance, after emigrating from Trinidad with its anti-colonial struggle, would first debate with other immigrant writers the use of demotic language versus standard English, and then become part of 'the re-education of Black human beings' (p. 77). Drawing attention to 'the world I'm living in' as a Black lesbian in Canada, Brand works across genres (including film/documentaries); she urges artists of all colours and orientations to problematise the notion of home and exchange their racialised/gendered perspectives to improve 'interaction with the cultural life or social milieu' (pp. 85, 86). Similarly, the poetics of Montreal-based Erin Mouré ('I think a lot about civic responsibility', p. 50) and of Australian-born Daphne Marlatt ('There's a willingness to swim in the drift of language as a body', p. 37) are grounded in their having become lesbian, in their negotiating this in the context of physiologies, emotions, and social identity-constructions through language and genre. From the nexus of place, culture, and capital, Jeff Derksen outlines a 'cultural poetics' embedded in a 'hyper-referential' urbanity; he investigates the potential of textual 'rearticulations' into 'larger social structures' (pp. …

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