29 June 2007


"The economy of poetry is antipathetic to profit, it’s a 'negative' economy. As James Sherry once remarked, if you take a sheet of plain white paper, perhaps it’s worth a penny, but if you write a poem on it, it’s worth nothing. It can no longer be sold. But, then again, that nothing is worth quite a lot. You’ve created negative value. Put a different way, that just shows that there are different kinds of economies and that poetry is an exchange economy."

--from "What does it mean to be a poet in our time: Interview with Charles Bernstein" by Eric Denut

24 June 2007

It's Still Belford

It’s Still Winter Vol 7 (#1) is now posted here and is an issue devoted to the work of Prince George poet Ken Belford. Included in the issue are three essays, a new interview, 31 new poems, photos, and video. The new issue is largely engineered by Associate Editor and Designer Graham Pearce.

19 June 2007

Local, as in Here

In this light, the concept of the “local” may be reinvented, no longer as the point of reference in a centralizing nation-state formation, but as itself the prime site where the uneven flows of the near and the distant, the immediate and the far, are both consumed and performed in our daily interactions. The local, then, is a geographical location, but it may also encompass all the specific events that condition our interactions with the vastly layered spaces of contemporary cultural formations that fan outward. . . It may also be a vantage point in that the local, as a model of the intersection of contradictory forces, can provide the impetus for critical—and perhaps postcolonial—studies that are attentive to points of intersection between cultures, creative texts, theories, discourses, and transnational movements.

--Roy Miki, “Globalization, (Canadian) Culture, and Critical Pedagogy: A Primer.” In Cynthia Sugars (ed.) Home-Work: Postcolonialism, Pedagogy, & Canadian Literature. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2004. 95-96.

13 June 2007

Wigmore & Caitlin Represent

Gillian Wigmore, soft geographies Madeira Park: Caitlin, 2007.

Wigmore takes us to that soft surface we call ‘place’ and replaces us there. She is ‘born in the north’ and so are her words, but part of being a poet from north-central BC is being able to ‘crack yourself open’ to reveal the layers of the land within us. soft geography is a symphony of what is here, in this structure of feeling called home.
–Rob Budde ( from the back cover)

Not only is it exciting to see Wigmore’s book after the success of her Creekstone chapbook Home When it Moves You but also exciting to see Caitlin actively publishing poetry again. The Northern BC-based press had been jeopardized by the sudden passing of Cynthia Wilson but under the direction of Silas White has released two new poetry titles.

soft geography is a great way to re-establish a northern BC focus; it is gutsy, hometown, and bright. Books like this are never representative but they are important in that they add to the complexity and the self-identification of this place.

Wigmore comes out of creative writing training in Victoria but takes the stylistic and formal training from there and makes it her own. The poems in this book are narrative driven, meaning that they tend to tell small stories in a compressed way. They are located in geography and family. The most striking poems deal with childhood memories of the narrator’s veterinarian father and deal bluntly with the gritty details of such a job. These are reminiscent of W.D. Valgardson’s In the Gutting Shed. It is the specialized language that distinguishes these poems; I cannot believe another poem in the world would have the phrases “electro-ejaculator,” “a heifer’s prolapsed uterus,” or perhaps the most memorable lines in the book: “the hot bulk of a downed stud horse beneath her / she holds a cock for the first time ever.” This last passage is from a poem called “Vet’s Daughter” and not at all eroticized in the context of the rest of the poem. This series tends to dwell on the dark, oddly poetic moments of connection and disconnection between the narrator and her father.

Another striking section of the book is called “Fall and Burn” and is an account of the pine beetle infestation. She has read this poem on CBC radio. The poem documents the plague (in a poetic way not a journalistic way) via the narrator’s partner who is a faller. It is also the story of loss, both of the trees but also of the husband/father who is away for his job:

because nothing can stop this oncoming wave of red
not heat, not falling trees, not pheromones
. . .
not one thing except a locust cloud,
except me: my desire, myself reflected

Place is really an interaction, an ecosystem in the broader sense of the word, between location, history, planet, and a perceiving individual. Wigmore gets this and the place she invokes is larger one of self-conscious emotional reflection.

I have a quarrel with Robert Hilles on the back cover where he describes the poems as “authentically depicting the rugged and sinewy lives of the heartland of British Columbia.” The word “authentic” is a tricky one at the best of times, but to take a book of poems as representative is always a problem. I am very much a part of this place and am in no way, shape or form, “rugged and sinewy.” Believe me. Such claims (like “truth,” a word Hilles also uses) deny the experience of diversity and multiplicity that is evident in every place. Wigmore, as opposed to Hilles’ reading of her, locates herself, and makes no claim to being a spokesperson; her poems are intimate, specific, and “true” to their own particular space.