Given the amount of activity Toronto poet, editor, critic and professional triathalete Suzanne Zelazo has been involved with over the past decade, one can understand why we haven’t seen much in the way of new poetry from her since the publication of her remarkable first trade collection, Parlance (Coach House Books, 2003). Editor-in-Chief of the late, lamented literary journal Queen Street Quarterly (1997 – 2005), she held a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at Ryerson University under Irene Gammel, exploring experimental writers and poets including Mina Loy, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven and Florine Stettheimer.
There is a fearlessness I’ve always admired about the work of Ottawa poet, editor and publisher Amanda Earl, unafraid to follow her curiosity into unusual corners, whether exploring the sexuality and textures of 1920’s Montparnasse in her first trade collection, Kiki (Chaudiere Books, 2014), to “Saint Ursula’s Commonplace Book.” As she writes to describe her current work-in-progress:
Ursula lived in the fourth or fifth century. Variations on her story exist. In one version, she is travelling by ship with eleven thousand virgins to meet her groom, a Pagan. The ship is attacked and the women, including Ursula, are beheaded. In another version, an arrow pierces her heart.
A church was built over the tomb where Ursula was buried. The arrow which pierced her is kept there. Young girls pray to Ursula for protection and miracles. She is their patron saint.
Armand Garnet Ruffo was born in Chapleau, northern Ontario, with roots to the Sagamok Ojibwe First Nation and the Chapleau Fox Lake Cree First Nation. Ruffo’s first collection of poetry, Opening In The Sky (1994), reveals an abiding interest in the complexities of Aboriginal identity in a multi-cultural society. His second book, the acclaimed Grey Owl: the Mystery of Archie Belaney (1997), is a creative poetic biography that further raises difficult questions about voice and identity, Aboriginal culture, human rights and the environment. Ruffo won the Archibald Lampman Poetry Award for his third collection of poetry, At Geronimo’s Grave (2001), in which he uses Geronimo’s life as a metaphor for resistance and survival. His latest writing project is the much anticipated Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing Into Thunderbird, a creative biography based on the life of the acclaimed Ojibway painter Norval Morrisseau, which was released in the fall of 2014 through Douglas & McIntyre; The Thunderbird Poems, based on the paintings of the artist, will appear in the spring of 2015.