Brick Book Club 2016
DISTURBING THE BUDDHA – BARRY DEMPSTER – lives in Holland Landing, Ontario – 15th poetry collection – MARCH 2016
A beloved poet explores why life is so rich, even at the worst of times.
Disturbing the Buddha, Barry Dempster’s fifteenth collection, is disarmingly conversational and, like the best conversations, it moves between reverence and irreverence, sincerity and irony as it grapples with love, loss, loneliness and simple lack of luck—the “three-leaf clovers” so much more plentiful than the four. Dempster’s wit and playful metaphoric turns let us take for granted the courage needed to admit to life’s ongoing intensities, disruptions, and indignities. In these poems, a forty-year-old man dons a pink plastic crown on his niece’s order; a solitary man watches a Nicole Kidman rom-com with his cat; an aging Aphrodite, more mortal than god, suffers hot flashes. Like the mystic poets he addresses in the book’s final section, Dempster respects the unknown as he comes to terms with the ups and downs of the all-too-human condition.
MEDITATIO PLACENTAE – MONTY REID – lives in Ottawa – 16th book – APRIL 2016
A wide-ranging meditation by an accomplished poet on the uncontainable materiality of the world.
From yoghurt tubs to pop-up books to bobcats, from cement trucks to lost socks to the products of conception, Meditatio Placentae, Monty Reid’s twelfth collection, is a book about unruly stuff. Stuff that functions but also stuff that exceeds, stuff that dreams. A gathering of short poems wrapped into longer sequences, this is a book that pays attention to the world, in all its dizzying forms.
APRÈS SATIE – FOR TWO AND FOUR HANDS – DEAN STEADMAN – lives in Ottawa – second poetry collection
Poems that echo Satie’s haunting music and refract the ironies of the Parisian Dada movement
A man who might be Erik Satie floats, à la Magritte, above Paris rooftops, thinking of a newly-extinct species of songbirds, “contemplating grief in the absence of song.” By turns tender, wry, playful and fierce, the poems in Dean Steadman’s second collection, Après Satie – For Two and Four Hands, use surreal imagery, recurring characters and cyclical themes to evoke the repetitive nature of much of Satie’s music, as well as the artistic and intellectual temperament of Paris during Satie’s most creative years.
HEAVEN’S THIEVES – SUE SINCLAIR – lives in Fredericton – fifth poetry collection – MAY 2016
Lyric poems built with consummate skill by a poet at the peak of her powers
Heaven’s Thieves is a collection engaged with the big questions—What are bodies for? What does it mean to be alive? What is beauty and why does it have such power over us? What is the point of art?—and the urgent ones—how to live in a shattered ecology, what to do about grief, illness, betrayal. Sinclair turns her attention to these questions with fearless curiosity, economy, and an originality born of her willingness to pursue her own line of inquiry to its limit. These poems get close and cut deep, mixing subject and object, surface and soul: “Red mud glistens / like cut fruit—or like the knife / that did the cutting, laid down.”
TELL THEM IT WAS MOZART – ANGELINE SCHELLENBERG – lives in Winnipeg – first poetry collection – SEPTEMBER 2016
Linked poems that uncover the ache and whimsy of raising children on the autism spectrum.
Through public judgments, detouring dreams and unspoken prayers, Tell Them It Was Mozart, Angeline Schellenberg’s debut collection, traces both a slow bonding and the emergence of a defiant humour. This is a book that keens and cherishes, a work full of the earthiness and transcendence of mother-love.
SELAH – NORA GOULD – lives in Consort, Alberta – second poetry collection – SEPTEMBER 2016
A long poem that limns the incremental mourning of living with a person who has frontotemporal dementia.
Selah, from Psalms and Habakkuk — to praise, to lift up, to weigh in the balances, to pause, or a purely musical notation. Biblical scholars debate the exact meaning. Selah, Nora Gould’s second poetry collection, is a sequence of fragments written in dialogue with all of these meanings. Stitched together, these fragments form a poem that runs from the ranch land of Alberta into the heart of a shared house and a shared life.
STOMATA – GENEVIEVE LEHR – lives in Halifax – second poetry collection – OCTOBER 2016
A powerful grief book—poems that are not so much elegiac as visionary.
Stomata, Genevieve Lehr’s second collection, asks that language shoulder loss, that it reach out centrifugally, at full metaphorical stretch, calling upon all its narrative and lyric resources to be adequate to human tragedy.