Robert Kroetsch

The Canadian prose poem

Notes toward an essay I haven’t quite written

a fragment of our poetry shelf
a fragment of our poetry shelf

A few years ago, reading through issues of the now-defunct sentence: the journal of the prose poem started me thinking about the prose poem in terms of difference between Canada and the United States. As much overlap as our two countries have, the evolution of the nebulously-termed “prose poetry” has been different, and yet, at least on this side of the border, the form hasn’t been (for what I’ve been able to find) much explored in terms of possibility, genealogy and influence. Back in May 2012, as a prelude to composing a possible essay to explore the subject, I sent out an email to a variety of individuals, and even a couple of list-serves, seeking information:

Roland Prevost: two new poems

Roland Prevost : photo credit: Charles Earl

What I’ve always found interesting about Ottawa poet Roland Prevost’s poetry is in the lengthy, detailed process that brought him to where he is now. For an hour or three a day, he composes in what he refers to as his “logbook”: composing journal entries, drafts of fiction, poetry and essays, and notes on recent reading. It has only been over the past decade or so, upon emerging to engage with Ottawa’s community of writers, reading series, publishers and performers, that Prevost has begun to shift in his composition, becoming more deliberate about writing poems-as-poems, all of which has culminated in his first book of poetry, Singular Plurals (Chaudiere Books, 2014).

Geomantic riposte: 'The Aviary'

Miranda Pearson moved to Canada from England in 1991 and has made many important contributions to the literary scene in Vancouver, BC through her work as an editor, teacher, and poet. Pearson’s poetry has been published widely in literary journals and anthologies, including The Bright Well: Contemporary Canadian Poems about Facing Cancer and Forcefield: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia. The Aviary, Pearson’s second book of poetry and the winner of the Alfred G. Bailey Award in 2006, is an intriguing collection in its progression from shorter poems with more recognizable lines of verse to longer poems that dance to the very edges of the page with increasing finesse and innovation.

'Bright Eyes'

Registry Hall, Ellis Island.
Registry Hall, Ellis Island. 1911 Tomasz, 1914 Anastasia. In 1996 Art Garfunkel played a concert here and sang the song "Bright Eyes".

Playing with translation is learning about one’s own language, one’s own history, how it came to be that certain words emerge from the mouth. I was working this morning on a wee project from last August, started after a research group meeting (working together on the question What is production?) where we considered Hannah Arendt and, inevitably, Heidegger.

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