The Only Card In A Deck of Knives by Lauren Turner

her debut collection The Only Card In A Deck of Knives out with Wolsak &Wynn publishers, the poet Lauren Turner takes us “to the edge of something” as she writes in the first line of her poem “If You Haven’t Found Me Yet, Say Good-bye”. But what that something is – gendered illness, vulnerability, anger, personal relationships — changes throughout the collection.…

Two Poems by Denis Robillard

Sky Grotto

July 9th, 2017

I remember those stark compositions I invented with the eye

When you sat here. I look up once again and the sky rewards me

With hints of its dark palmistry. Sky grotto. Sparks from Greyson elders.

Old clouds on crutches hobbling from east to west across the sky

Like grievous angels genuflecting.

And so the book fills in its missing chapters.…

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the broken boat by Daniela Elza

In the broken boat, her fourth book of poetry, Daniela Elza deftly builds a raft of questions to stay afloat amidst the breakage of things. The end of a twenty-year marriage mirrors subtler fragmentations in our world. How to survive this loss of meaning, this “wintering through”?

was isolated. Isolating. Like everyone, more or less. In my case, locked-down in a tiny apartment with glimpses of water through highrise steel and glass.…

Pluviophile by Yusuf Saadi

Pluviophile veers through various poetic visions and traditions in search of the sacred within and beyond language.

At the risk of resembling a middle school English report, let’s start with a definition. Pluviophile – (n) a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. And so we join Yusuf Saadi, to splash through his shower of joy- and peace-of-mind-inducing Pluviophile.…

We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite by Conyer Clayton

first line from the poem “Seeds” in Conyer Clayton’s debut collection We Shed Our Skin Like Dynamite out with Guernica Editions is “I pray to catch on fire” which puts me in mind of Gwendolyn MacEwen’s lines, “who made me as the world’s / first person, breathing / Fire and poetry.”

Perhaps it is not the same thing, but Conyer Clayton’s new collection reminds me a little of Gwendolyn MacEwen’s poetry in its surprising, less-tangible, lyrically-dense, deeply interior images, but also of Ruth Stone’s In The Next Galaxy in its spare structures and short line breaks.…

Riding Alone by Ashok Bhargava

Ashok Bhargava is a poet who strives to live peacefully in all his interactions, with self, others the divine and his struggle through cancer. Riding Alone chronicles that journey. Even his introduction offers an example of peace, to serve as the flawed and beautiful beings we are, “These poems express my place in the universe and my belief in myself, though I am deeply flawed…Not everyone understood my situation.…

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If You Discover A Fire by Shaun Robinson

In his first poetry collection If You Discover A Fire from Brick Books, Shaun Robinson spins out poems that describe, in precise detail, a faded and fallen world. Larry Levis once said, ”There are places where the eye starves”, but in Robinson’s capable hands even the most mundane or pedestrian of settings feels haunted by his careful attention to the right word and image.…

Walk Away Silver Heart by Frank Prem

I’m a fan of the ekphrastic medium – inspired creativity, examples of life imitating art, or more accurately, art imitating art, building on the existing with fresh interpretation. Poet Frank Prem leaps into the genre with his poetry, inspired by Amy Lowell’s Madonna of the Evening Flowers.

To set the tone, from Lowell’s poem:

All day long I have been working / Now I am tired.

Curtis LeBlanc’s Birding In The Glass Age Of Isolation

Curtis LeBlanc’s Birding In The Glass Age of Isolation, mental illness, masculinity, and storytelling are all explored in this worthy follow-up to his first book Little Wild (2018). Like the hunters he writes about, LeBlanc practices patience and careful observations leading readers through poem after poem as he seeks a verbal equivalent for the anxiety he feels.

Clearly one of LeBlanc’s triggering subjects for his poetry is his father, and it ignites one of the best poems in the collection “On Seeing My Father In Brueughel’s Winter Landscape With Skaters And A Bird Trap”.…

In The Vicinity of Riches by Chris Hutchinson

Skyping Dionysus

In The Vicinity of Riches by Chris Hutchinson is a poetry collection that takes a hard look at Late Stage Capitalism through the jaundiced eye of a poet whose Romantic sensibilities are constantly under attack by a society obsessed with virtual fame, iPhones, petrochemicals and antidepressants.

The speaker of these poems is bone-weary, cynical, emotionally distant, but beneath all of the skepticism is still a beleaguered belief in art.…

Squall: Poems in the Voice of Mary Shelley by Chad Norman

What if the lady — Jane Austen’s contemporary –who conceived the world’s most intriguing modern monster (Doc Frankenstein’s creature) — was also a proto-suffragette, precursor-feminist, and, simultaneously, much to her chagrin, wedded to a narcissist poet, whose liberalism urged on his libertinism? How would such a woman think? What would she say about her majuscule Romantic dilemma and minuscule romantic predicament?

Spotlight Poem #2: “Trivia Night” by Shaun Robinson

The poem “Trivia Night” by Shaun Robinson comes from his wonderful new poetry collection If You Discover A Fire out with Brick Books later this spring. A review is forthcoming!


It’s important to get things wrong,

even if it feels like fighting

with a lover, forgetting important dates

and the names of her friends,

and she thinks it means you don’t care.…

The Voice That Is Great Within Us: Poetry And Voice

One of the last books the late American poet Tony Hoagland left us with was his slim volume of essays and writing exercises called The Art of Voice. In its contents, he says a convincing poetic voice, “can be embodied through a kind of stuttering hesitation, or by a spontaneous uncensoredness, or as a deepening tangle of psychology. It can be performed as anxiety, or carefree light-headedness, or as overconfident swagger, or as steady, painstaking thoughtfulness” (9).…

Pretty Time Machine: ekphrastic prose poems by Lorette C. Luzajic

whole ekphrastic thing’s morphed somewhat since Greeks coined the term, describing art based on other art – adding creative layers, facilitating praise to enrich the overall experience. Like bacon. The addition simply makes things better. This artistic endeavour, however, represents life. Everything has a facet of ekphrasis to it. Reading a book is more than a visual undertaking. Opening a print publication entails multi-sensory stimulation – the tactile feel and aroma, be it heady new ink or the scent of old paper and glue, a dusty hardback from a second-hand bin or well-thumbed paperback left on a train.…

Roguelike by Mathew Henderson

Video Games and Voltas

you flip to the glossary in Mathew Henderson’s slick new poetry book Roguelike from Anansi Press, it explains the title comes from, “Rogue, a computer game released in 1980 characterized by its procedurally generated levels, turn-based combat/exploration, and permanent character death.”

In many ways, Henderson has created a roguelike structure to this sophomore collection full of questing and retro-heroics as he divides it into sections Early/Game, The Grind and End/Game.…