As one reads through Mr. Neilson’s essays in Margin of Interest, his abundant love of poetry —particularly in this instance — shines throughout. His style of writing, while directed at academia, is approachable enough for any interested reader (think Conrad Black tempered with a dash of Leacock). He is even mirthful at times, and it is truly enjoyable to read Margin of Interest, even if your interest in poetry is marginal.Naturally, being from New Brunswick, Mr. Neilson is most comfortable (knowledgeable) about the poetry of the Maritimes. As such, Margin of Interest serves as an excellent introduction to giants such as Alden Nowlan (“..a very big presence.”), Milton Acorn (“But reader, he will slay you. He will break your heart.“), M. Travis Lane, Wayne Clifford, George Elliot Clarke (and “The Problem”) and others. He even devotes an entire essay (“A Gallery of Maritime Poets Under 40”) to such notable young poets as Rebecca Thomas, El Jones, David Huebert, Mathew Henderson (“…Henderson approaches magic..”) and many others, making Margin of Interest a very up-to-date compendium of Maritime poets past and present.
I enjoyed reading Mr. Neilson’s essays on the English language poets of the Maritimes. If you are at all interested in the development and current state of poetry from this region, then Margin of Interest needs to be on your bookshelf.
I would like to conclude this brief look at Margin of Interest with an insightful quote from Mr. Neilson:
“Call me defiant if you must, but I believe Margin of Interest argues like good friends argue amongst themselves. Good friends leverage dirty secrets against one another until feelings are hurt and the sun rises and the decision is presented, yet again, whether to remain friends. And being good friends, they remain so! If you’re not a Maritimer, well, then you are quite possibly not a good friend, but you’re a friend nevertheless and you can listen and agree or disagree as you might. (Here, have some dulse.)”
So pull up a comfy chair and your (possibly good) friend Shane will tell you a thing or two about English language poetry of the Maritimes!
About the Author: Shane Neilson is a poet, physician, literary critic, and scholar of Canadian literature who lives with disability. He published his first review in 1998 and has had to look over his shoulder ever since. Shane is an assistant professor in family medicine at McMaster University (adjunct) and he continues to practice medicine at a little clinic in Guelph, Ontario.
Margin of Interest: Essays on English Language Poetry of the Maritimes by Shane Neilson
The Porcupine’s Quill
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