Wednesday, April 25, 2012


On a ramble
down the creekbed

I kicked a log
that spanned

the stream.
From an unseen

orifice in its
underside streamed

a host of irate
white jacket

wasps. I froze
and watched

them buzz about
my knees

and rubber-booted
feet for what

might have been
an hour. One by

one they retreated
to their hidden

hive, my heartbeat
slowing one

by one, until
the last wasp

disappeared inside
and I paused

one beat

kicked the log
and ran.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Review online

A few months back, Garrick Davis, the editor of Contemporary Poetry Review, a site I've long read and admired for its erudite and incisive criticism, approached me about contributing to CPR. Having a very full dayjob and freelance dance card these days, I'm not writing much by way of reviews, so I asked him if he'd be open to co-publishing a piece I had written for Canadian Notes & Queries, on the recent anthology Modern Canadian Poets. Happily, Garrick agreed to this and the other day my review went up on the CPR site.

One of the anthology's editors, living up to his name, if falling considerably shy of his namesake in wit, has already responded. (He has an unfortunate history of leaving no wound unwhined.) The only thing I have to say about this hilarious epistle is that, while I may well be an autodidact, I also have an MA in English. Which isn't nearly as impressive as having a PhD, natch. What was that about obsessive appeals to authority? Right.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Some deliquescent, quasi-mystical vacuity

...There will always be something in any poem, some reverberation of the numinous, which is not patient of explication, otherwise it would not be a poem.
     But I must insist that I am not endorsing a lapse into some deliquescent, quasi-mystical vacuity. That would be an insupportable cop-out. The poet may ask of his reader the willing suspension of disbelief; he does not, ever, ask for any diminution of the critical faculties. On the contrary, he would have the reader's critical faculties raised to the highest possible degree. No one can be more aware of the fact that, if everything means everything, then nothing means anything. Purgatory would be for me a perpetual mooning about in some gormless Dream-Analysis Workshop. The poet attempts to work within the most stringent of strictures; he abhors above all else the slovenly, the imprecise, in thought or in language.

--Richard Outram, "An Exercise in Exegesis," from Richard Outram: Essays on His Works