Tag Archives: Canadian Literature

When Voices Intertwine (Book Review)

Robert Bringhurst is often described as a modern-day renaissance man. Few writers could navigate fields as diverse as poetry, translation, typography, cultural history, and philosophy as interwoven vocations. Through an adherence to polyphony as a mode of deep ecological thinking, Bringhurst works to make accessible the wisdom of poets and thinkers past, from Sophocles to Haida mythtellers Ghandl and Skaay.

As Bringhurst puts it, “when two voices intertwine, the space they occupy gets larger, and the mind gets larger with it”; no wonder poet Denis Lee calls him “a man of massive simple-mindedness.” Bringhurst has a way of chiselling complex thinking down to that part of being that ineluctably binds all living matter together. Bringhurst’s ontological approach is more aligned with ancient Greece than the modern academy, which is why editors Brent Wood and Mark Dickinson make clear that he doesn’t neatly fit within the “twenty-first century university’s rubric of knowledge production and transmission.” As such, Bringhurst is most comfortable in the role of an independent public thinker, bound by neither institution nor strict cultural protocol, which has irked some of his critics.

Click here to read my full review at Canadian Literature.

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Book Review: Dennison Smith’s Fermata and Catherine Owen’s Trobairitz

A Sound Withheld

Dennison Smith’s Fermata and Catherine Owen’s Trobairitz are two poetic texts significant not only for the sounds they make, but for what they withhold. For all the cacophony and multivoicedness sustained in each text, there are plenty of moments that give the reader pause. Fermata (a lyrical text of Zen-like suspension) and Trobairitz (a text that weds twelfth-century troubadours and their female counterparts, the trobairitz, with twenty-first century metalheads) are worlds apart; yet, both texts resonate with silences, shift between suffering, love, and desire, and combine and reclaim traditional materials with the alchemical power of the fearless poetess who conducts language at the centre of each narrative.

To read the full review at Canadian Literature, click here.