Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Shane Neilson's Meniscus

Shane Neilson's first trade book Meniscus has come in for a bit of late season praise I'd like to draw your attention to. Carmine Starnino has listed it -- alongside Wayne Clifford's Jane Again and Robyn Sarah's Pause for Breath (3 of 10? Hey! Not bad!) -- as among his top 10 poetry titles this season. There's a review up at Agora and the excellent Quill & Quire review is up online as well. This past weekend The Winnipeg Free Press also reviewed Meniscus, saying:

SHANE Neilson's Meniscus (Biblioasis, 93 pages, $18) is an example of that rare and defining moment in a poet's career when subject and language meld into authentic poetic voice.
Meniscus is the first full-length collection by Neilson, an Ontario physician, who takes on the confessional with precision and purpose.
Neilson doesn't hold anything back when he writes about what he knows best: the horrors of child abuse, the darkness of illness and the equally challenging states of love.
What is most compelling is Neilson's unsentimental range of emotion. An abusive father who taught his son "in the end there is fear" is also a farmer who, after losing $30,000 in one year, "lightly shovelled / shit onto sun-browned spots."
Every line is taut with pain and heart under Neilson's staunch eye. In For my father, he writes:

it is about being able to bear the load,
be it two cord of hardwood on a truck,
two cord in the ledger, the two cord of the heart,
two cord hauled out from backfields
and split with the hydraulic, carried in a child's arms
and piled head-high.

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