Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A ‘best of’ list of 2017 Canadian poetry books : dusie,

Here we go again, my list of the seemingly-arbitrary “worth repeating” (given ‘best’ is such an inconclusive designation), constructed from the list of poetry titles I’ve managed to review throughout the past year. And, if you can imagine, this is my seventh annual list [see also: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011] since dusie-maven Susana Gardner originally suggested various dusie-esque poets write up their own versions of same (I think I’m the only one who actually did).

Most years I’ve been quite active as a reviewer, but I’ve slowed considerably since the emergence of our two wee girls (Rose turned 4 in November; Aoife turned 1 this past April; I am home with both), meaning the pool from which I draw is smaller than it once was. These days, two reviews a week is a hefty goal, which is slightly improved since Aoife began her two mornings a week of preschool and Rose began junior kindergarten. I know there are still a considerable amount of 2017 titles I’ve been unable to properly discuss, including Steve Venright’s The Least You Can Do Is Be Magnificent: Selected & New Writings (Anvil Press) (among others, certainly; you have no idea how large the mounds of not-yet-reviewed currently is, whether sitting upon or beside my home-office desk), and I haven’t even seen Calgary poet Nikki Sheppy’s debut yet, published through University of Calgary Press; nor did I review my dear wife Christine McNair’s stunning Charm (BookThug). Simply consider them, I suppose, as part of this list as well. And yet, I know these lists get longer ever year: how am I supposed to focus on a mere ten? There is so much amazing work being produced right now (and a lot of awful, also, but we aren’t talking about that here, at this moment).

This year, my increasingly-long list [which you can find here, on the dusie blog] includes new titles by Nelson Ball, Suzannah Showler, Aisha Sasha John, Douglas Barbour, Stephen Cain, Erín Moure, Michael Dennis, Erin Robinsong, Emily Izsak, Margaret Christakos, Shane Rhodes, Kate Cayley, Gary Barwin, Marcus McCann, Emily Ursuliak, Jay Ritchie, Trish Salah, Sennah Yee, Cecily Nicholson, Nancy Shaw, Mercedes Eng, Shannon Bramer, Fenn Stewart, Sharon Thesen, Catriona Strang and Joshua Whitehead.

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