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Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Hopefully, this first post — for divergent reasons — will have more in common with batting practise than with either Baseball Prospectus or the works of Canadian poet(?) bpNichol.

With Randy Johnson and Carlos Beltran starting the timers on their respective New York minutes this week, it looks like the Hot Stove season has begun to cool off. The only major remaining free agents worthy of more than a two year deal are Carlos Delgado and Magglio Ordonez, both of whom seem content to be wooed and wed slowly. So we may not know until February where they will be swinging their bats in 2005.

So I'm going to say a few words about Aislinn Hunter's The Possible Past, which just might be the best book of Canadian poetry to appear since Anne Carson's Glass, Irony and God.

What do I like about The Possible Past?

Just the intelligence and precision, the ease and grace of the language, the apparent effortlessness of the poems which disguises how much thought, work, and craft was put into their forms and structures. Lines like this
I hang roses from the rafters, it's what I do.
        Rehearse each petal's falling.
A lovely math, a symmetry, infuses this book, beginning immediately with the first poem, 'Attempts to Know the Past.' The sequence 'Barriers, in Six Parts' is amazing in its inexorable progression, its building, pacing, and restless, pacing observations of language and its difficulties.

I often find myself afraid to open a new book of poetry and begin reading — what if I don't like it? But when I do pry a book open and it marks me ... well, there are poets and/or poems — Heaney, Mandelstam, Rilke, Dickinson, Neruda, Lorca, Hughes (and Christopher Logue's versions of The Iliad) — whom I have been unable to stop myself from pushing at people and saying, "You gotta read this. You gotta hear this!" The Possible Past does that to me. It's quite a fusion of intellect, philosophy, and emotion.


Anonymous said...

"the works of Canadian poet(?) bpNichol"

Being the kindest of souls, I will ignore the (?) and instead point to the winter 2005 issue of Grain where the Christmas cards of bpNichol appear. Grain's new editor is taking the magazine in a fresh direction. Exciting stuff.

Anonymous said...

Of course I'd love to hear the reason for the (?)...

johncox said...

I have to say that, although I was raised in the modernist tradition, I still prefer the classics, such as; Green Eggs & Ham, Lucifer's Hammer, and Sledgehammer. But then, I always was a sucker for the genre fiction...

johncox said...

Damn, now I want a sandwich...

Anonymous said...

...and I, a hammer


MackJohnny said...

b said, "Of course I'd love to hear the reason for the (?)..."

The reason for the (?) is that not everyone might agree about the poet. bp's never been my first choice (though I like some stuff, and can bear almost everything — excpet the encouragement of Bill Bisset).

johncox, it's about 2 a.m. and I'm cooking chicken. I can run a sandwich down to you when it's done.