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Books, January 2005

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Issue: 25 Section: Literature & Ideas Geography: Canada Topics: poetry

January 12, 2005

Books, January 2005

kingsmere.jpgKing's (Mere)
Dueck, Nathan
Turnstone Press, 2004

What a shock to find the private voice of William Lyon Mackenzie King exhumed and tampered with, blasted open, and then to find Dueck twirling underneath catching pieces of King on his tongue. This frenetic collection is a poetic interpretation of the life of the former prime minister, reconstructed through examination of his letters and diaries, as well as from news sources of the time and subsequent scholarly analysis of King's personality and career. Dueck veers from straightforward if elliptical commentary on King's famous relationship with his mother-- "She was a widow under glass framed by a window. King wrote of looking at her through the book open to the hills of her lap. The sun's tongue dawned on her and blinded me"-- to garbled strings of association and wordplay-- "a malaise/ mother? my belle?/ la belle hells/ without mercy/ this mailman/ whore son/ rise sun/ her(i)son/ rex within/ earshot up/ humped/ like dogs/ he feared/ on his/ route". There may be just a touch too much space left for the reader in this ambitious project; those who are unfamiliar with the events and characters of King's life do not get much from Dueck in the way of explanation. However, Dueck may be well within his rights in telling us to look King up in a Who's Who rather than expecting him to baby us along. --Linda Besner

Queyras, Sina
Nightwood Editions, 2004

Sina Queyras' first book, Slip, was named "2002's sexiest book of poetry" by Tanis McDonald at Prairie Fire, and her second collection continues to offer stunning erotic moments: "There is dust on your lines, she says, dull wit cramps your damp bed. Crack/ your spine: it's about desire, the triangulation of,/ intensity of the other, not self, split in two". Yet in Teethmarks, Queyras seems to be deliberately moving away from the sexual territory covered in Slip, and to be delving into new subjects, like the relationship between mother and daughter, or American politics. The former is achieved largely through "untitled film stills"-- a more fragmented, imagistic form than that evident in Queyras' earlier work. This innovative section walks a precarious line between the accessible and the overly personal. The poet's political voice is boldly empathetic, and "Me Victorious" is perhaps the fiercest and most fervent piece in a competent and explorative second collection. --Matthew J.Trafford

by K.I Press
Gaspereau Press, 2004

Spine is poetry about the physical and imaginative properties of books, in which classic characters are revisited and darkly revised. Press also takes us behind the chosen typeface with the broken "Joanna", into the editor's office in the satirical "Slush Pile", and into the mind of the great publisher Aldus Menutius in "Hurry, Slowly". Books and the act of reading form the allusive and emotional backbone of the literary addict. Spine, however, is far from a bibliophile's affectionate romp through the canon. Moments of literary comfort contend with that creeping sense that this fulfillment comes at a price; perhaps, while devotedly reading, one is missing out on something called "real life" found elsewhere. Nostalgia, too, Press evades, inviting us to love old books only "sadly/ seeing why we loved them/ then". Most satisfying is when Press weaves allusions into larger abstractions to show the formative powers of the literature we've consumed. This shows up in a meditation on "Buoyancy", in which "Everyone's a suicide/ bomber these days fits happen/ on every living-room floor, you'd think/ we still believed in Freud,/ in eating men like air, in crying". Though its organization feels random at times, Spine's poetic range awakens its readers to the greater implications of the very act being performed. -- Jane Henderson

globalprofit.jpgGlobal Profit and Global Justice
Deb Abbey
New Society, 2004

This essential tool for socially concerned investors and consumers addresses one of the unavoidable truisms of our time: "With governments becoming increasingly reluctant to put restrictions on business, consumer activism is one of the ways that citizens can affect global and national social policy. In some ways, it's becoming better to shop than to vote". Abbey and her four other contributors address the main categories of investing, consuming, and giving. Several different types of investment funds are profiled to explain their relative histories and goals, and a number of companies are examined to explain why the authors include them in the "ethical fund" category. In terms of consumption, Abbey discusses the history and efficacy of consumer boycotts, and describes the factors that allow consumers to make informed and conscientious purchases. She also points to relevant and extremely useful websites, like www. responsibleshopper.org, and www.IdealsWork.com. Finally, the handbook gives some keen advice on how to customize the most effective giving strategy based on your ideals and your donation budget. -- Amanda Janes

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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