Lori's Book Nook

Posts Tagged ‘Poetry

It was just brought to my attention that the famous truly Canadian poem David by Earle Birney is now online!

This is a poem read by Canadian high school students, and I think for the most part they actually enjoy it, because while it’s long, it’s a clear story in a setting that many of them know and understand.

And here it is, courtesy of the University of Toronto Libraries — annotated even!

A sample:

2 All week in the valley for wages, in air that was steeped
3 In the wail of mosquitoes, but over the sunalive weekends
5 Poker, the wrangling, the snoring under the fetid
6 Tents, and because we had joy in our lengthening coltish
7 Muscles, and mountains for David were made to see over,
8 Stairs from the valleys and steps to the sun’s retreats.
II
10 To a curling lake and lost the lure of the faceted
11 Cone in the swell of its sprawling shoulders. Past
12 The inlet we grilled our bacon, the strips festooned
13 On a poplar prong, in the hurrying slant of the sunset.
14 Then the two of us rolled in the blanket while round us the cold
15 Pines thrust at the stars. The dawn was a floating
17 To snow like fire in the sunlight. The peak was upthrust
18 Like a fist in a frozen ocean of rock that swirled
19 Into valleys the moon could be rolled in. Remotely unfurling
20 Eastward the alien prairie glittered. Down through the dusty
23 Strides. I remember, before the larches’ edge,
24 That I jumped a long green surf of juniper flowing
26 Spilled on the moss. Then the darkening firs
27 And the sudden whirring of water that knifed down a fern-hidden
28 Cliff and splashed unseen into mist in the shadows.
It goes on…a story of friendship and tragedy and growth. Truly quite spellbinding for a poem.

Well, it’s happened again…I’ve received another box of books to review (here’s a list of the previous batch, and the one before).

This time they look like a lovely mix: 4 books of short stories, 1 memoir, 1 poetry/novel, 2 novels.

Short Stories

Cobalt Blue by Mary Borsky (Thomas Allen Publishers) — Judging this book by its cover, I’d say it’ll be mighty good. Lovely hand-holding size, good design, a trade paper with useful jacket-flaps. (A note to the publishers — your page for the book didn’t google well.) (Reviewed at Quill and Quire here.)

Silent Girl by Tricia Dower (Inanna Publications) — Wow. A quick google of this book title exposes me to something new, unexpected: A moving book trailer on YouTube.

I’m absolutely flumoxed. Tricia, me girl, that was inspired. I’m now terribly eager to read the book. (Book publishers/authors, take note: this woman knows how to market a book on the Internet!).

Out of Cleveland by Lolette Kuby (Véhicule Press) — A slim book with a very simple, unpretentious cover. I’m a sucker for short stories by women about women, so add that to the author’s background as a poet, I’m looking forward to this collection too.

I must admit, this post is turning into a “Who wins on the Internet marketing front?” — and here’s one that has almost no presence. To get anywhere, you have to put the title in quotes. Publisher — pay attention! I had to search for your site separately! (Hopeless, as web-un-savvy as this group is, they will likely not see this post. Unlike Tricia, above, who will be visiting me shortly, I’m sure!)

Red Rooms by Cherie Dimaline (Theytus Books) — Theytus Books is a small publisher, but all of the books I’ve seen are beautifully designed. I’m a little biased, as this publisher is in my town. Being from them, I do know that the author must be First Nations — and looking at the jacket, the stories are about the “urban Native people.” Another book to look forward to.

Memoir

The Way It Was: Vignettes from My One-Room Schools by Edith Van Kleek (University of Calgary Press) — Beautifully designed cover, readable text, nice heft to the book…I know I’ll enjoy this one. The author wrote notes throughout her career, and her daughter has now edited them into this book. (On the Internet marketing scale, this one doesn’t even rate. Note to authors — don’t expect a university publisher to market your book!)

Poetry/Novel

The Given by Daphne Marlatt (McClelland & Stewart) — I would expect Daphne Marlatt, who’s been writing poetry and novels for years, to have a good publisher (which she does)…and that publisher to have decent web-savvy (and they do). Even with the name of this poetry novel being rather common, the book’s page googled up on the first page. Of course, I’m looking forward to reading this offering.

Novels

The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee (Vintage Canada – Random House) — I would expect Random House to be up-to-date on the whole web marketing issue, and they are. Search the phrase end of east and it’s the first hit. Well done! 2nd place prize to Random House. The novel itself looks lovely — a generational piece on Vancouver’s Chinatown. Can’t wait.

Living with the Dead by Karen Armstrong (Random House) — Armstrong has a series of her Otherworld books out, and while I’ve not read any (yet), I have heard of her. Random House didn’t do as well for this author, but her own website is informative, listing her books. Bronze medal for web marketing.

I will try to post something other than my first impressions as I read the books. Please feel free to ask me directly for feedback.

And Tricia? Stop and say hi! 😀

I’ve bleated on enough about the last package of books I received to review, so I won’t go into that again.

Without further ado, in no particular order (other than the order they are piled on my desk), here are some Canadian books published in 2008 that you should keep your eyes peeled for:

Anything by Shauna Singh Baldwin. I have in my pile two books of short stories — the re-published English Lessons and Other Stories (with Readers’ Guide), and a new collection called We are not in Pakistan. Both are wonders of cross-cultural exploration, lovely stories of very real people. I see from her website that she has also written two novels…worth checking out.

Under the Holy Lake: A memoir of Eastern Bhutan by Ken Haigh is a highly readable introduction to Bhutan, a country that the average person knows little about. Haigh spent a soul-searching 2 years teaching in Khaling, a small village in the far eastern reaches of an already inaccessible country. This book will leave you with a lasting impression of the country and its people.

Shirin and Salt Man by Nilofar Shidmehr is a book that takes you by surprise. [By the way, a note to all authors…ensure that you or your book has its own dedicated page somewhere — in the Internet age, you need to stand out and be linked to!] It’s a novella in poetic form, tying the legends of Iran to the modern day. I read it through the first time, fascinated by the poetry and the images; the second time, fascinated by the story; and the third time sent me to the Internet to research the legends of Shirin and the discovery of the Salt Man in the 80s.

I’ll leave you there, with more to come. Plus, I will point out a couple of books to avoid…there are days when I despair at the state of Canada’s publishing! (Do I despair or rejoice in the knowledge that anyone can get published?!?)

As I have pointed out before, I’ve been reviewing books for the Canadian Book Review Annual for years. Recently, they underwent a bit of upheaval, as they closed their doors due to the prohibitive cost of putting out the annual, but then were taken over by the Dundurn Group.

So, this year was a letter telling me that CBRA was folding, followed by another saying, “No, sorry for that…we’re back on! Expect your books soon!” Yippee!

Without further ado, the books, in no particular order:

  1. Universal Communicator from Ulysses — A small, itty-bitty little book to fit in your back pocket while traveling, with no words. Point to pictures to express your basic needs/desires. Actually quite brilliant.
  2. Shirin and Salt Man by Nilofar Shidmehr (Oolichan Press) — I’m looking forward to this one…albeit the format is new to me. It’s a novel in poetry about Iran.
  3. A Song For My Daughter by Patricia Jean Smith (Oolichan Press) — Absolutely lovely cover, if one can judge books that way. Another Oolichan press book, from Vancouver Island.
  4. The Sherpa and Other Fictions by Nila Gupta (Sumach Press) — Short stories by an Indo-Canadian woman.  I do like short stories!
  5. My Estruscan Face by Gianna Patriarca (Quattro Books) — Even if I didn’t know this was poetry, the cover design screams that fact. The poet, with the amazing name, is award-winning, so I’m looking forward to this one as well.
  6. As Fate Decrees by Denysé Bridger (EDGE SF and Fantasy Publishing) — A truly horrible cover, with a fraught painting that more or less depicts the story. But then, I’ve already read this fantasy based in ancient Greece, and it’s quite good. Despite the cover.
  7. Pretenders and Righteous Anger by Lynda Williams (EDGE) — Parts 2 and 3 of the Okal Rel Saga. Gads, do I need Part 1? Anyway, from the same publishers as #6, the covers of these are just as awful. And it looks like they have the corner on melodramatic cover artists and designers, because all three books have different people in those positions. I’m assuming they will read better than they look. I’ll keep you posted.
  8. Personal History by Roo Borson (Pedlar Press) — This seems to be an artsy memoir.
  9. We are not in Pakistan and English Lessons and other stories by Shauna Singh Baldwin (Goose Lane) — Two books of short stories with beautiful covers. (Not that I’m looking!)
  10. Lift Up Your Hearts by Laurel Buck (Shoreline) — A slim memoir (one of many, so it seems) by a woman who appears to be a storyteller. (Keeping an open mind…)
  11. Under the Holy Lake: A memoir of Eastern Bhutan by Ken Haigh (UofA Press) — Gorgeous-looking book, a possibly  substantial memoir. By its very ‘luck’ at being at the bottom of this list, I may read it next.

Well there you go. If you have any experience with any of these, if you’ve landed here because you’re tied to them in some ways, please pause and comment.

(If you are one of the cover artists at EDGE, please be aware that I can barely draw a stick figure. Your paintings are great, just not suited to book covers.)


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