Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Question of Ethnicity

If you watched the "cage match" between Carmine Starnino and Christian Bok and you stayed with it till the end, you would have heard a question addressed to both speakers about women and minorities. That questioner has now posted a report on the evening, in which she elaborates upon her concerns:

When I asked why they thought, in a country as ethnically diverse as Canada, that the most prominent writers they could call to mind were white men, neither Bök nor Starnino answered completely. With the exception of Starnino’s brief mention of the difficulties aboriginal writers perceive in publishing their work, both avoided the question of ethnicity, focusing on the role of women in their respective genres. Starnino asserted that as an editor he always invites women to submit either critical or creative work, and claims that these women often fail to answer his invitations. Bök claimed that the conceptual writing movement to which he belongs was started by accident with his friends in a bar, and it just happens that no women were there. Bök concluded by saying that the avant-garde would welcome a stronger female presence (I should mention here that I studied with Dr. X for three years at the Uof C, and he was, indeed, supportive of my experimental feminist poetic practice).

Despite their claims that they would welcome more diverse voices, both Bök’s and Starnino’s arguments throughout the debate reveal a problem with their approach to solving the issues they perceive in Canadian poetry. Faced with diminished readership, insufficient critical attention, and a growing cultural irrelevance, both writers argue that more needs to be done in Canadian poetry to reduce, restrict, and reject. But perhaps the decline of Canadian poetry needs to be answered not by putting more bars on the windows, but by throwing open the doors. Bök wants poetry to be culturally relevant. Starnino wants poetry to speak to people. But how can poetry do either of these things when most Canadians are poorly represented in the Canadian literary scene? Instead of trying to further limit poetry to make it relevant, to make it speak to people, what can we do to break poetry wide open, and let everyone in?

These are questions worth asking and they deserve a good answer. But the answer seems to me to be that if Bok and Starnino are closing doors, it's against writing that they perceive to be sub-standard, not against people of specific genders or ethnicities. It seems a particularly odd charge to sling at Carmine, given that he's the son of Italian immigrants. Who better than a child of non-English speakers, from a working-class family in a predominantly French-speaking city, would appreciate the challenges facing non-majority citizens aspiring towards literary legitimacy?

Leaving aside the question of Bok and Starnino's particular role, what about Ms. Hajnoczky's assertion that "most Canadians are poorly represented in the Canadian literary scene"? I'm wondering what metric she's used to come to this conclusion, because it seems to me to be manifestly incorrect. For one thing, "most Canadians" actually are white. Here are some statistics on ethnicity from the 2006 census:


Here are some stats on visible minorities:

Year ↓1996 ↓1996% ↓2001 ↓2001% ↓2006 ↓2006% ↓
South Asian6705902.35%9170703.09%12332754.00%
Latin American1769700.62%3042451.00%
Southeast Asian1727650.61%2314250.70%
West Asian1567000.50%
Multiple visible minorities615750.22%1042150.30%
Visible minority, n.i.e.697450.24%714200.20%
Total visible minority population319748011.21%398384513.44%506809516.20%
Non-Visible Minority Population2533064588.79%2565518586.56%2617293583.78%
Total Population28528125100.00%29639030100.00%31241030100.00%

Furthermore, it has to be taken into consideration that a fairly high percentage of visible minorities will be relatively recent immigrants, many of whom don't speak English as a first language. Here are the stats on language:

Languages by mothertongue:[16]

It has to be further taken into account that most immigrants are fundamentally concerned with improving their material circumstances and it is a proven fact that writing poetry is a poor method of achieving such goals. I attended a private high school in Ottawa, where many of my peers were the children of economically successful immigrants. For most of these kids, if artistic pursuits were encouraged at all, it was in the name of becoming a more well-rounded person, not as a career goal. Many of those kids had serious talents in one artistic field or another, but none that I know of went on to make an artistic pursuit their vocation. Those kids' kids, it seems to me, stand a far greater chance of being encouraged to pursue artistic goals, as their parents will want them to have what they lacked--just as their immigrant parents, in their turn, wanted their kids to possess a measure of the financial stability and security that they worked extremely hard to obtain.

The vast majority of poets in any culture come from the middle and upper classes because people entrenched in such circumstances in general have more leisure, financial security and education. To be a poet, in any meaningful sense of the word, requires not merely competence in, but mastery of, the language in which one writes, as well as a deep and broad knowledge of the poetic traditions in that language and in the poetries of other cultures, to say nothing of the technical and critical terminologies pertinent to the art form. So it should come as no surprise if the vast majority of Canadian poets writing in English are white and middle class. Or stupid and lazy, if you prefer Doc Bok's terminology.

Given this, are minorities actually under-represented, or do we see them publishing books of poetry in precisely the proportion one would expect? I don't have numbers on this, but consider the following facts. In 2001, South Asians represented a little over 3% of the Canadian population. It could reasonably be assumed, then, that South Asian females represented approximately 1.5% of the overall population: approximately 450,000 people. In 2004, Mansfield Press published Red Silk, an anthology of South Asian women poets; there were eleven contributors to the anthology. Assuming that the editors got all of the eligible contributors, that means about 1 in 40,000 South Asian females in Canada are poets. There are slightly fewer than 500 full members of the League of Canadian Poets, according to their website. Assuming there are as many poets publishing books with recognized presses who aren't members of the League, that means that there are approximately 1000 English-language poets in Canada. Going by the same 2001 population numbers, that means that 1 in 30,000 Canadians is an English-language poet. So, by this rough math, it does look like South Asian females are somewhat under-represented. But again, you have to take into account things like English-language competency, which is bound to be lower in a population that originates in countries whose official languages are not English. Given that the percentage of South Asians in Canada went up 1% in five years between the 2001 and 2006 censuses, it seems very likely that there has been a significant influx of new immigrants from the region. The probability of first-generation ESL immigrants becoming competent English-language poets is extraordinarily small. So it would seem that, in fact, South Asian women are not having doors closed to them in the "poetry scene."

There are of course serious social issues mitigating against people from other demographic cohorts becoming English-language poets. It is a well-established fact, for instance, that aboriginals are disproportionately poor, disproportionately ill-educated and disproportionately incarcerated. These are all factors that make your average Native Canadian quite unlikely to become an English-language poet. I hope it will be generally agreed that this is a trivially minor problem facing Native peoples. And I think it's safe to say that they are in the situation in which they find themselves directly as the result of discriminatory policies on the part of Canada's conquering peoples (predominantly white Europeans). This is not the result, in other words, of systemic or systematic barriers within the poetry publishing establishment of contemporary Canada. If Native Canadians are not punching their poetic weight, statistically speaking, it is the product of much larger socio-economic issues. In other words, if aboriginals were on average wealthier, healthier and better educated, there would be more Native poets writing in English. (The complex post-colonial ironies of writing in the language of your traditional oppressor is a topic for another post.) There are certainly many presses who have demonstrated an openness to publishing such Native Canadian poets as Sky-Dancer Louise Bernice Halfe, Philp Kevin Paul, Randy Lundy, Gregory Scofield and Beth Cuthand, to name a few.

At any rate, the field is ripe for further statistical analysis, but one thing, I think, can be safely stated: Any perception of inbuilt bias against minority Canadians in the poetry publishing establishment can be nothing better than an assumption. In order for poets to be welcomed with open arms, they first have to exist.


Finn Harvor said...

It's worth noting that the question (or rather, injustice) of exclusion is one that can be interpreted in ways that go far beyond those of ethnicity/sex/class, etc.; literature has never been terribly inclusive at any time, so it's small wonder that when it is under seige the situation would worsen.

What's sadly ironic is a fix exists -- and that fix involves the internet, and the tremendous opportunity is provides vis a vis publishing. I'm not going to bang the e-book drum too loudly -- I don't actually like looking at screens for all that long, still enjoy the feel of the book, all that wood-pulp-philic stuff. But the problem with net lit culture at the present time is that while creative work is being posted online, the *commentary* which builds a literature is focussed almost exclusively on text publications; they have have become more than vehicles ... they've become convenient fetish objects cum filters.

Brian Palmu said...

"what can we do to break poetry wide open, and let everyone in?"

I thought the Vandals were already over the gates.

Seriously, though, the answer is obvious: write a good poem.

Conrad DiDiodato said...

Thanks for posting this great article, Zachariah

I'd also like to throw in the mix the natural preference given to academics whose publications automatically translate into larger sales (particularly to university English/Creative writing classes) than an elementary school teacher could hope to get.

And, of course, the under-represented class of First Nations poets is something we should all be ashamed of! It's no accident that white males form a majority.

Jonathan Ball said...

Perhaps in fact minority writers should adopt wholesale Bok's polemical catchphrases, and declare themselves "not dumb enough" to be caught dead writing poetry, like those "lazy white people."

I think the complaint that there aren't more women writing or recognized as writing great poetry is a bit odd. It seems to me that some of the best and most prominent poets in this country are women: writers like Sina Queyras, Lisa Robertson, Erin Moure, and of course you can't argue that Margaret Atwood and Anne Carson are having any problems with being taken seriously.

Perhaps my tastes and personal biases have led me to believe that women writers are more well-respected and represented than in fact they are. But for whatever reason, rightly or wrongly, I don't see that women writers have too many problems in Canada. Maybe if there was a breakdown of contemporary sales figures or assigned textbooks or award wins that revealed some disparity I would feel otherwise.

Zachariah Wells said...

I didn't address the "question of women" for precisely those reasons, Jonathan. It seems to me that, while society at large has yet to redress all gender disparities (which is perhaps why female life expectancy is still higher than male...), there are no obstacles against women publishing poetry--or any literary genre--in Canada. At least none that aren't also faced by men. Even if there were a disparity in sales figures--which I doubt--that would be indicative only of consumer bias, not of institutional barriers.

Add to your list recent big prize nominees such Anne Simpson, Karen Solie, Di Brandt, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Sachiko Murakami, Jan Zwicky, Roo Borson, Margaret Avison, PK Page, Dionne Brand. To say nothing of highly respected figures such as Lorna Crozier, Susan Musgrave, Robyn Sarah, Stephanie Bolster, Mary Dalton. Recent Relit awards have gone to Souvankham Thammavongsa and Gillian Wigmore. Just off the top of my head.

Some presses are bound to publish more women than men, just as some are bound to publish more women, but I don't see that as an issue, given how many subsidized presses are out there. I certainly don't know of any who publish men exclusively.

Jonathan Ball said...

I'm not a woman, and I don't know what the truth might be in this regard. But I think that if I were a woman, I might be offended at the assumption, reproduced constantly, that women have it hard in the literary world, where they struggle to be recognized alongside men. I think women can chalk the literary world up as a triumph. I'm willing to admit in advance that I might be wrong, but this is how it seems to me.

Zachariah Wells said...

Clearly, I'm over-representing women in my last comment. One of the "women" in the last paragraph--take your pick--should read "men."

Pearl said...

Interesting discussion.

A small point. Helen writes from Calgary where visible minorities are 1/4 population rather than 16%.

Still, it's a minority but ethnicity is more than melanin. Calgary is one of the highest population growth cities in Canada. Locally there could be a neighbourhood where the majority are different ethnicities. Also, setting gender apart, subjectively one can feel like a minority if there is a change in percentage. For example, my mom remarking on there being so many immigrants here. In that case there were 2, a mom and daughter, in a room of about 40. When one is habituated to homogeneity, difference feels disproportional.

But point taken, that people who are settling into a new place have cognitive demands that would make a poetry career more challenging.

There is a push to represent minority and ethnic voices. It's part of our national story to do so.

If we add together the underrepresentation of women and the people who are under systemic survival pressures because of culture shock, poverty, the word majority is closer to accurate.

Women underrepresented?

That some women do well is not a proof that all women do. That some of a group become icons does not mean that all live a life of parity and any distinctions of group from rest are erased.

That there are magazines closed to males and none that I know of closed to females doesn't prove a female advantage, nor does longevity.

I'm in the habit of doing head counts by gender in magazines, in prize lists. I note the breakdown of citations by gender made in workshops, in speeches, in what favorite poems are read.
We are dealing with a backlog of history when male writers were working with different resources so there are more people to quote.

I note how many males and females speak at conferences and at festivals and how the turn taking goes, what the responses are, who gets talked about afterwards and how. There's a fairly consistent skew towards males being quoted, discussed favorably by males and females.

Where does this come from? Unconsidered habit that as a culture we should be more biased towards male voice?

I've been thinking about this gender issue in more length here:

Asher said...

Thanks for posting this, Zack.

Some initial thoughts:

I live in a city where 47% of the population identify as ethnic minorities. (There’s a difference between ethnicity and color. People of color are discriminated against, whereas others can pass as white.) Anyway, I don’t see this demographic represented on OAC panels, and the OAC is much more sensitive to these issues that the CC. This demographic is not represented in journals put out in Toronto. These committees tend to consist of one “token” minority. This demographic is not represented at readings, or in national newspapers where most reviewers are white.

If you talk to anyone in the councils, they will say ethnicity is a major issue in the arts. They don’t have separate officers and programs to address these issues for no reason. Taste is often racialized, gendered, class based and dependent on location. At least one can read more widely consider other aesthetics traditions. I remember sitting on a panel and we came to poet whose text mentioned a vexed issue, and the white, male writer whose work I happen to admire, reduced that piece of writing to ideology. It was clear he wasn't familiar with experimental form, and he seemed to dislike any poetry that threatened his own ideology concerning this issue. Shit like this happens all this time. The token minority individual on the panel can often be coerced into a position. At the same time, we do need more mentors…we need more people who actually read outside of Anglo-Canadian, Anglo-America experimental/traditional camps. We need new ways to conceptualize writing outside of this feudal-like camps. And I don’t think the Swenson hybridity aesthetics is necessarily an answer.

Bok and Starnino sidestep the issue of ethnicity, virtually erasing the question. How does the avant-garde challenge these very deeply entrenched issues? How does it address changing demographics? Bok could have at least mentioned the historical convergences between the avant-garde and black poetry (Breton and Cesaire, for example). He might have mentioned poets such as Adnois or Darwish, poets who belong to this “international avant garde.” He does mention the avant-garde as a historically international, but the poets he cites are Canadian and Americas and members of his clique. There is hardly anything radical in Bok’s work, from what I’ve read of it. Aren’t both poets formalists? I can’t comment on Starnino’s work. From what I have read though, it seems like a sort of effort to recuperate a Canadian romanticism.

Another relevant question: How many people of color, how many women have to adopt a certain dominant aesthetic, in order to be recognized as practitioners of poetry in Canada? Who wants to adopt any of those positions if those positions do not reflect ones own experience: if their experience, for example, demands a different aesthetic that doesn’t sit comfortably in received notions of what good poetry is in this country? I think much of the problem is that most writers of color get pulled into different directions based on the dominant aesthetics that are currently in style -- even if they are not very interesting. In any case, I think both Bok and Starnino represent, in some sense, similar ideological positions.

Go to any reading in Toronto and count how many of people of color show up. The truth is that the poetry and literary community is largely white. In the US this was not the case, partly because of the ways identity politics entered into the main-steam and there was much initiative on the part of minorities to form their own presses etc.



Zachariah Wells said...

Thanks for your comments, Pearl.

Hajnoczky may have been writing from Calgary, but she wasn't writing of it. She was writing of Canada, and what she said was that "most Canadians" weren't represented in Canadian poetry [in English], that the doors of the poetry world are closed to non-majority and female poets. Which isn't true. Or at least, if there is some measure of truth to it, there's scant evidence to support the argument. It's presented more as an article of faith.

And sure, the success of some doesn't mean that there's no inequity. But the degree of success, spread over a substantial number of poets, suggests to me that sex/gender simply isn't something that's discriminated against in the institutions of Canadian poetry.

Look at the Gerald Lampert Award, which recognizes first books--i.e. the first large step a poet makes over the threshold into official verse culture. Since its inception, it's been won by 25 women and 8 men--and that gap has only narrowed that much because men have won four of the last six Lamperts. Door appears to be open.

Do you have any numbers from your analyses of readings, journals, etc.? I'm quite sure you'd find an imbalance in some of them, because very few people would be consciously trying to strike one. A baseline number that has some statistical significance is number of books published. There aren't stats available for that, but a handy standby is the list of titles submitted to the GGs. Here's the F/M breakdown over the last five years.

2009: 67/77
2008: 59/70
2007: 67/69
2006: 55/68
2005: 67/77

I have to say, I'm a bit surprised that books by men outnumbered books by women in each year, but the gap (55%-45% is the widest, in 2006 and the following year it was damn near dead even) is not very wide at all. For there to be any kind of systemic bias against one sex or another, you'd see 60/40 splits at the very least. Overall, the culture of Canadian poetry does not exclude women.

Again, it can be a matter of perception, but just as in the case of your mother seeing minorities everywhere, the perception would be at odds with reality. Present reality, that is, of course. As you say, given that historically there have been many more male than female writers, it is almost inevitable that males will be more often cited, for some time to come. As for your subjective experience of various talks, etc., I can't say anything, as I wasn't there. If I was, I'd be more interested in what was being said than in the gender identity of the person saying it. That's my bias.

Asher said...

p.s. if you haven't already, you might check out "frontiers: essays and writing on racism and culture" by m.nourbese philip "the multicultural 'whitewash:' racism in ontario's arts funding system" is particularly good and also astute essays by roy miki...I don't have anything else to say on the topic. in terms of gender, i don't think a number or a chart can really account for what goes on the cultural level. oh, there's also a great book by pascale casanova which thinks through the issue of literary capital in a highly inventive manner.

best of luck,


Jonathan Ball said...

Asher makes a good point that Bok and Starnino are both formalists at heart (although I believe Bok is much more of a "formalist" than Starnino). The two are unfairly considered polar opposites due to Starnino's unfavourable review of Eunoia and Bok's subsequent casting of Starnino as "Mr Convention" (which is not helped by Starnino's bizarre obsession with attacking the so-called "avant-garde").

I would really like to see Starnino stop writing about experimental poetry. It is apparent that he simply doesn't know what he's talking about. I don't mean this in any insulting way. In regards to other work he is an excellent critic. It's not that he doesn't understand poetic tradition or history. He just can't effectively read post-L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry. He doesn't like it and he doesn't understand it, which would be fine if he would stop writing about it.

What I'd like to see from Bok is less polemical statements. I know for a fact that he is not as fascistic in his tastes as he appears. He once recommended that I read Steven Price's Anatomy of Keys. But he knows how to act for the cameras and how to throw out sound bites and raise controversy. It's fine for him to do this as a devil's advocate figure, but too often it has the effect of simplifying and obscuring excellent points that need to be taken seriously.

Conrad DiDiodato said...

Stats, demographics and Ontario Council policy mean nothing.

A fact's a fact: only two male poets (Bok and Starnino)are being talked about here.Ad nauseum. When was the last time two female (or gay or First Nations) poets received as much attention? In blogs, articles, mags?


Are groups being unfairly represented in publishing and awards? Damn right. How about evening the score and talking about other poets for once.Starting here.

Bok and Starnino...blah blah blah.

Zachariah Wells said...

Asher, I'm a member of an ethnic minority. My wife is a member of two ethnic minorities. We've both been turned down for grants. It has nothing to do with racism. Most people applying for grants in any given year get turned down. I'm inclined to think that in the case of your supposedly benighted fellow panelist, he simply didn't like the work. I think everyone who gets turned down for a grant at some point makes up some kind of narrative for why it happened. I know I have. If you see racism in society--of which there is a great deal--it makes sense that you'd see it everywhere. But the arts community is, by and large, way less racist than society in general.

I'm inclined to believe this about your panelist because most political poetry I've come across is more political than poetry, more inclined towards cant than song. I say this not because I dislike political poetry, as such. I don't dislike it. If you type Martin Espada's name into the search bar of this blog, you'll find several admiring posts. Espada is the quintessence of an engaged poet, who champions the cause of oppressed and marginalized minorities and doesn't fear to run afoul of higher powers. He's also a damn good poet and is published by one of the biggest houses--Norton--in the US.

I write a lot of political poems myself. But I hate most political poetry. Again, type Tom Wayman's name into the search bar and you'll see what I mean. Wayman tackles "vexed issues," but does so in a condescendingly simplified manner. In my experience the vast majority of political poetry is written more or less this way, without any kind of nuance or an ounce of bona fide emotional and linguistic engagement.

I guess I'm finding your analysis too simplistic. And a tad self-righteous. You say:

"From what I have read though, [Starnino's work] seems like a sort of effort to recuperate a Canadian romanticism."

What does this even mean? I'm assuming it's a disparagement, especially since it's a revision of an earlier version of your post in which you say of the same work that you find it "annoyingly self-conscious." Presumably, you wanted to find a more objective-sounding objection. But Asher, your objection is no different, in kind, from your white panelist's issue with the grant applicant's political poetry. You say you can't speak to it, but then you do, dismissively. You're speaking from prejudice.

A wiser man than all of us once said "de gustibus non est disputandum." The appreciation poetry is an intrinsically subjective phenomenon. I'd say that it's a grave mistake to treat someone else's failure to appreciate something you like as a vicious error waiting to be corrected--I'd say that, but I guess that too would be a grave mistake. I just wish you wouldn't say that prejudice is wrong, if all you're going to do is replace it with another prejudice.

You say:

"I think much of the problem is that most writers of color get pulled into different directions based on the dominant aesthetics that are currently in style -- even if they are not very interesting."

There's even more truth to this if you take "of color" out of the sentence. True originality doesn't exist. Everyone's writing comes from other writing. Everyone writing in English has the history of everything written in English as a common seedbed. No one writing purely according to one convention or another is apt to come up with anything interesting. But again, what's interesting to you is boring to someone else. You're no more right than Carmine or Christian is.

Asher said...

Hey Jonathan,

Interesting point about Bok being more of a formalist...

I thought Starnino could have made better distinctions between commercial success and success as the historical avant-garde would consider success(e.g.*). In a sense, Bok proved to me that the "avant-garde" (and I don't think that category is even applicable these days) has lost its historical function with all his pretentious talk about sales. The Canadian presses that represent the "avant-garde" are more concerned commercial success. While Bok seems to be dazzled by some pseudo-sci-fi speculative future (there's an interesting discussion between Bok and Jasper Bernes over at poetry foundation), Starnino seems to be fixated on a golden past. The thing is Bok's future doesn't grapple with the past injustices of avant-garde, and Starnino's past relies on tired notion of what literature is. I guess I'm more interested in those who are straddle between these two poles...



(Cesaire's brilliant response to Lieutenant de Vaisseau Bayle:

Sir, We have received your indictment of Tropiques.

"Racists," "sectarians," "revolutionaries," "ingrates and traitors to the country," "poisoners of souls," none of these epithets really repulses us. "Poisoners of Souls," like Racine, . . . "Ingrates and traitors to our good Country," like Zola, ... "Revolutionaries," like the Hugo of "Châtiments." "Sectarians," passionately, like Rimbaud and Lautréamont. Racists, yes. Of the racism of Toussaint Louverture, of Claude McKay and Langston Hughes against that of Drumont and Hitler. As to the rest of it, don't expect for us to plead our case, nor vain recriminations, nor discussion. We do not speak the same language.

Signed: Aimé Césaire, Suzanne Césaire, Georges Gratiant, Aristide Maugée, René Ménil, Lucie Thesée.9

Zachariah Wells said...

Jonathan, I think you're absolutely right that Bok is more of a "formalist" than Starnino. Carmine has actually never been a formalist in any precisely-defined sense of the term; it's just a prejudicial stereotype. I'd say that it was a case of racial discrimination--but that would be fatuous.

I tend to agree that Carmine's best criticism has not been of "avant-garde" (and I agree with Asher that the term is irrelevant) writing, but I think you're selling short his capacity for appreciating work outside his own aesthetic range. I've seen him speak quite highly of work by Lisa Robertson and Alice Burdick, e.g., and he clearly appreciates Bok's Crystallography. And, to address further some of Asher's complaints, he's published the very political and experimental poems of Walid Bitar, as well as deeply political poetry by Mary Dalton and Shannon Stewart.

When he attacks the "avant-garde," it's more its ideologies and pretensions--that they're more cutting edge than anyone else and that the "mainstream" is recidivist, reactionary and deluded--than the idea of writing differently that he's after.

And yes, Bok is capable of far greater nuance than he displayed in the cage match. He spoke highly of Price's book in the interview I posted here about his abortive experience as a GG juror.

Zachariah Wells said...

Conrad, tell you what. Write a post about two other writers on your blog and I'll link it here. But sorry, I'm not in the business of political redress on demand.

Conrad DiDiodato said...

Thanks for the offer, Zach

I'll send you a couple of posts on poetry of Andreas Gripp and Michael Mirolla.

Can you send me your email at

Zachariah Wells said...

Email's on my profile. But you can just post the links here, if you want. But I thought you wanted to talk about non-white-male poets?

Conrad DiDiodato said...


I'll leave links here to blog posts on poetry of Andreas Gripp and Penn Kemp. We can start with a non-mainstream type and a female poet. People I both know and admire greatly for their language skills and commitment to Canadian poetry.