Thursday, February 5, 2009

CNQ 75

The latest number of CNQ arrived in my box today. This is a special issue edited by Carmine Starnino, featuring soothsaying essays on various cultural topics by different writers. Haven't had a chance to dig into it yet. Looking forward to doing so soon.

In my section of the mag, there's some very good stuff, including

  • Jason Guriel on Nick Thran, JD Black and Christopher Patton's debut collections
  • Nick Thran on Jason Guriel and David McGimpsey's mass media-inspired collections
  • Alessandro Porco on a couple of slippery poets, Kevin Connolly and Walid Bitar
  • Jim Pollock on the black and white magics of Jeffery Donaldson
  • Steven W. Beattie on the Giller list
  • Lyle Neff on David W. McFadden's selected
  • Martin Wallace on WJ Keith's cultural conservatism
  • Yours Truly on first collections by Suzanne Buffam and Pino Coluccio
The last on that list is a bit of a long story. I first wrote the review for The Antigonish Review in 2005. Several issues went by and no review. Then I saw they published a review of a book published in 2006 and asked if I could withdraw the review. I'm the first to admit I'm not the most organized of reviews editors, but that was just a bit too much. So it was homeless for a while till I gave it to Dan Wells. He was going to post it on the CNQ website, but then Carmine wanted it for the issue he was editing, so voila. Never too late for an in-depth review of good books.

But the highlight of my section, if I'm allowed to pick favourites, is Pollock's review essay of Donaldson's oeuvre to-date. James has emerged in the last couple of years as one of the few truly top-notch Canadian poetry critics. His criticism is very precise and meticulously argued, but never dryly dispassionate. An earlier part of this essay was published at Contemporary Poetry Review a while ago. The updated piece takes into account Donaldson's new book, the outstanding Palilalia, as well.

There are also four poems each from a couple of poet-critics who are no slouches themselves, Jason Guriel and Mark Callanan. After precociously strong debuts, they've both got new books coming out soon, I do believe, which I'm looking forward to seeing. An awful lot of good-looking poetry collections on the horizon.

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