Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jailbreaks Review

Just came across this review of Jailbreaks in Maple Tree Literary Supplement. While the review is mostly praiseful, Michèle Rackham poses the most pointed questions of any reviewer about specific exclusions. I'm glad she asked. I left Carman out because Carman was a terrible poet; had he been anything but a popular versifier who had the historical good fortune to be one of the earliest poets in the country, he'd be completely forgotten by now. His work is kept alive by academic life support. Dudek I left out because he was a dully pedantic poet; again, I don't know that anyone outside of academic specialists reads Dudek anymore. Livesay and Kroetsch very nearly made the cut, but I ultimately couldn't generate enough enthusiasm about the poems to include them. And the book, as her observations about the notes suggests, was intended to present poems I'm enthusiastic about, not to present a picture of the canon-as-is. Poems, not reputations.

Oh, and as for why Neff is next to Bailey:

Neff: "Consider an owl tracking thru the vulnerable / Night of a billion sleeping mice: you can be like that and kill!"

Bailey: "Look well upon the elm whose wittol root / roams like a hungry rat"

'Nuf said?

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