Over a career stretching more than four decades, Canadian poet Phil Hall has become known as the “poet’s poet,” more widely known and appreciated only during the past half-decade or so. Somehow, in the course of a conversation with poet and Wilfrid Laurier University Press Director, Brian Henderson, it followed that I would be editing a selection of thirty-eight of Hall’s poems for a “selected poems” as part of their Laurier Poetry Series. This press has produced two dozen titles of selected poems by Canadian poets, each guest-edited, and has established itself with an impressive series, predominantly aimed toward university and college courses, and the possibility of a new readership for established Canadian poets. Authors in the series include Fred Wah (ed. Louis Cabri), Nicole Brossard (ed. Louise H. Forsyth), derek beaulieu (ed. Kit Dobson), Christopher Dewdney (ed. Karl Jirgens), Dennis Cooley (ed. Nicole Markotić), Di Brandt (ed. Tanis MacDonald), Daphne Marlatt (ed. Susan Knutson) and Steve McCaffery (ed. Darren Wershler).
Chalmers Arts Foundation Fellow Judith Ariana Fitzgerald is one of our most neglected national treasures in Canada, and has over thirty works to her credit, including poetry, biography, anthologies, and children’s books. Short-listed for (or recipient of) several major honors including the Fiona Mee, Trillium, Governor-General’s Poetry and Writers’ Choice Awards, Fitzgerald is perhaps best known for her newspaper blog/column that fearlessly achieves the remarkable feat of raising The Globe & Mail to the condition of poetry.
George Bowering and I have exchanged emails every so often about our mutual interest in baseball, and — although this hasn’t been the explicit topic of our casual backs and forth — about why baseball has been such an attraction to poets writing in the experimental tradition. It might just be that because there are so many fans of baseball, and because there are many experimental poets, the demographic probabilities are in favor of producing the Bowerings. But I think it’s more than that. I’m pleased to recommend Bowering’s Baseball: A Poem in the Magic Number 9 (inexpensive paperback available here), but that’s not why I’m writing today. Today I want to introduce you to a book-length poem Kevin Varrone has been writing. It is not published yet but, as I understand it, is complete in manuscript. The title of the book is “Box Score : An Autobiography” and has, in addition to the fairly standard quip about our childhoods from the late Bart Giamatti, a lovely and relevant epigraph from Andrew Zawaki:
: weighted and found wanting : this unaccustomed light
Varrone’s book is a series of prose poems and here are several: