Archive for March, 2009

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News: Pick of St. Patrick’s Day

March 18, 2009

I was asked by Globe Books Editor Martin Levin to submit names of writers one turns to on St. Patrick’s Day for a bit of the Irish, but didn’t have time to properly compile an answer. Poet Aislinn Hunter, however, did, and she took an interesting tack: naming names from Newfoundland’s Irish Loop instead of from good old Dooblin. I think she has particularly good taste, as you might guess, because she mentions yours truly and The Rush to Here.

Aislinn Hunter, Vancouver-based poet and novelist, asks “does the Irish Loop count?” (The Irish Loop is part of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula – and it does count.)

Poetry by Patrick Warner (b. Ireland, resident St. John’s), fiction by Joel Thomas Hynes (whose Irish Loop book Down to the Dirt was just made into a gut-wrenchingly wonderful film), and the recent poetry books by St. John’s poets George Murray (The Rush to Here) and Agnes Walsh (Going Around with Bachelors).

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News: The Hunter at ARC’s How Poems Work

March 3, 2009

The opening poem from my 2003 book, The Hunter, is under review at ARC Magazine’s How Poems Work feature this month. Nigel Beale examines the poem from his perspective, providing his key for reading it. I used to like the “How Poems Work” feature in the Globe and Mail a few years ago, so it’s nice that ARC has decided to continue the tradition of providing individual readings for individual poems.

The poem works then because it attaches itself to canonical words, pushes through intriguing sets of thin, thought-provoking binary opposites, looks at the horizon, and formulates a complicated commentary both on the globe’s future physical environment, and humankind’s perilous rejection of wise thinking in favour of greedy consumption. In short, the poem’s complex ambiguity invites engagement: it’s not too late to save the world from ignorant human behaviour. Alternatively, Murray himself has described the Hunter as angry, and the poem’s ‘Promised Land’ can just as easily be interpreted ironically, apocalyptically, as it can hopefully.

The poem succeeds because neither it, nor its central character is static. He changes, like most of us do, over time. The ‘he’ in the poem evolves from a dissatisfied beast into an insatiable destroyer, from a threatening spirit, to, in the end, a loving hopeful human being struggling simply to stay alive who is intent, possibly, on creating a better world—or at least on trying to save this one. Godlike, beaten, but not dead. Not yet, at least while there is still the capacity to ‘look up’, to hope, despite a barren landscape. Resurrected. Mail fisted.