Monday, July 30, 2007

Two Short Winnipeg Free Press Reviews

The Winnipeg Free Press ran two short reviews of Biblioasis titles this past weekend, Robyn Sarah's Little Eurekas, and Eric Ormsby's Time's Covenant.

Poet has a few surprises up her sleeve by Mauriece Mierau

Montrealer Robyn Sarah's Little Eurekas: A Decade's Thoughts on Poetry (Biblioasis, 272 pages, $24.95) is stimulating and fiercely articulate. Sarah has published four full-length collections and appeared in numerous anthologies. There is much here that will surprise people who believe poetry is merely self-expression. Sarah advocates the memorization of poems in schools, for example, rather than misguided classroom 'analysis.' Her essay 'In Praise of Smaller Servings' will also raise eyebrows. She argues that Canadian books by individual, unknown poets are 'a form that alienates readers and buyers' and that such collections are 'mostly over-long.' She describes book awards as 'an annual lottery' where poets increase their chances by publishing as frequently as possible. " Little Eurekas also contains exemplary short reviews and appreciations that frequently make you want to rush to the bookstore.

According the the preface, Eric Ormsby's Time's Covenant: Selected Poems (Biblioasis, 288 pages, $29) is actually a collected volume. It brings together work from five books published between 1958 and 2006 and also some unpublished poems. Ormsby was a professor of Islamic studies at McGill University for many years, and wrote on the side. His bibliography is glamorous: he's appeared in the New Yorker, several Norton anthologies and the Paris Review. Many of the poems here are delicate, linguistically intricate observations of nature. 'Skunk cabbage ', for instance, describes "the foul magenta of its gorgeous heart," and 'Bee Balm' observes how "All night they cling sybaritic as pashas, / Their stiff golden fur dampened with pleasure.

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