USEREVIEW 108 (Capsule): Tear

USEREVIEW 108 (Capsule): Tear

Erica McKeenTear (Invisible Publishing, 2022)ISBN | 978-1-77843-006-0 | 304 pp | $22.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY The latest addition to the ‘monstrous feminine‘ literary canon is Erica McKeen‘s debut novel Tear. Aptly described by its synopsis as a “horrifyingly deformed Bildungsroman,” Tear shadows its protagonist, Frances, from her childhood with a deadbeat father, an ambivalent mother and her only friend Jasper, to her early adulthood as a reticent and isolated young woman on the

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USEREVIEW 107 (Capsule): rump + flank

USEREVIEW 107 (Capsule): rump + flank

Carol Harvey Steskirump + flank (NeWest Press, 2021)ISBN | 978-1-77439-028-3 | 96 pp | $19.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Carol Harvey Steski’s poetry debut rump + flank is, as the title suggests, concerned with the body, with the essential physical substance of existence — but also with the bawdy, with the erotic, the indecent, the amusing. Divided into three sections, the collection is book-ended by ‘Various Cuts’ and ‘Scar,’ their names clearly evoking the

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USEREVIEW 106 (Capsule): The Razor’s Edge

USEREVIEW 106 (Capsule): The Razor’s Edge

Karl JirgensThe Razor’s Edge (The Porcupine’s Quill, 2022)ISBN | 978-0-88984-450-6 | 152 pp | $18.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Karl Jirgens gave me some advice years ago that I haven’t been able to forget. He said (and here I paraphrase): “If you want to be a writer, don’t become a publisher.” Whatever wisdom there might be in that aphorism, it doesn’t seem to apply very well to Jirgens himself. He was the editor and

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USEREVIEW 105 (Capsule): the half-drowned

USEREVIEW 105 (Capsule): the half-drowned

Trynne Delaneythe half-drowned (Metatron Press, 2022)ISBN | 978-1-98835-525-2 | 144 pp | $18.00 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY I became acquainted with Trynne Delaney’s writing through their compelling, experimental ‘dark patterns: matrilineal family curse,’ described as a “poem nested in a genetic pedigree,” that appeared in the “2S+QTBIPOC” issue of CV2. Prior to book publication, a preponderance of Delaney’s publicly available work appears to have been poetry, including their self-published debut chapbook, death of the

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USEREVIEW 104: A Search for Another Ending

USEREVIEW 104: A Search for Another Ending

In this traditional review, Marcie McCauley assesses the successes of Victoria Hetherington’s sophomore novel Autonomy (Dundurn Press — Rare Machines imprint, 2022) within the context of a history of literature about human-AI interaction. ISBN 978-1-45974-847-7  | 272 pp | $23.99 CAD — BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY One of the characters at the heart of Victoria Hetherington’s Autonomy is a reader with a habit of peering into stories to find new ways of being. “All the female

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USEREVIEW 103: Prolong, in Fragments

USEREVIEW 103: Prolong, in Fragments

In this traditional review, Hollay Ghadery gets out the microscope to peer closely at rob mclennan’s latest poetry collection the book of smaller (University of Calgary Press, 2022). ISBN 978-1-77385-261-4  | 120 pp | $19.99 CAD — BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY rob mclennan’s newest poetry collection, the book of smaller, is an impressive exercise in compression. Like so many of my favourite poets, mclennan excels at distilling sentiment into something, if not more pure, at least

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USEREVIEW 102: Pulsing Light

USEREVIEW 102: Pulsing Light

Kate Finegan finds the love and courage that bloom like flowers among ruins in this traditional review of Deirdre Danklin’s debut novella Catastrophe (Texas Review Press, 2022), winner of the 2021 Clay Reynolds Novella Prize. ISBN 978-1-68003-273-4 | 186 pp | $19.95 USD — BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY In Deirdre Danklin’s debut novella, Catastrophe, two friends separated by time and distance communicate telepathically while waiting out a catastrophe that has made population centres uninhabitable. The unnamed

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USEREVIEW 101: The Poet and the Singer

USEREVIEW 101: The Poet and the Singer

In a departure from our usual focus on indie presses and authors who aren’t already famous millionaires, we present Daniel Hinds‘ experimental prose poem review of Lana Del Rey‘s debut poetry collection Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass (Simon & Schuster, 2020). Why did we break our own unspoken rules on which books we prioritize for reviews? Probably because we feel that what’s happening in this review is something much more than direct commentary on

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USEREVIEW 100: Five from ‘CONUNDRUM 25’

USEREVIEW 100: Five from ‘CONUNDRUM 25’

Happy anniversary to us, it’s our 100th review! In this sweeping traditional review of five books, reviewer Mark Laliberte takes on a handful of early samples from Conundrum Press’ Conundrum 25, a series of graphic short stories, each presented as a small volume of its own, in honour of the publisher’s 25th anniversary. Joe OllmannDay Old (2021) — #1 in the Conundrum 25 SeriesISBN 978-177262-058-0 | 107 pp, 4.25 x 6.25 in | $10 CAD

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USEREVIEW 099 (Capsule): An Orchid Astronomy

USEREVIEW 099 (Capsule): An Orchid Astronomy

Tasnuva HaydenAn Orchid Astronomy (University of Calgary Press, 2022)ISBN 978-1-77385-271-3 | 196 pp | $24.99 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Tasnuva Hayden’s debut poetry collection is a weighty 186 pages of poetry, segmented into 5 long, semi-narrative poems (ranging from 28 to 40 pages each), variously titled, and 10 short poems (1 page each), titled after, and focusing on, individual constellations. The semi-narrative poems orbit around particular subjects, which are both as changeless and changing

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USEREVIEW 098 (Capsule): The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour

USEREVIEW 098 (Capsule): The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour

Dawn DumontThe Prairie Chicken Dance Tour (Freehand Books, 2021)ISBN 978-1-98829-887-0 | 306 pp | $24.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY The prairie chicken — a rare bird that nearly went extinct in the early twentieth century but is now working on a comeback — is known as a strong flyer, so it only makes sense that a book named after the species would take the reader on a whirlwind tour. In Dawn Dumont‘s latest novel

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USEREVIEW 097 (Capsule): Infinity Network

USEREVIEW 097 (Capsule): Infinity Network

Jim JohnstoneInfinity Network (Véhicule Press, 2022)ISBN 978-1-55065-591-1 | 78 pp | $19.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Eternity is rendered a slender chronicle in Jim Johnstone’s latest poetry collection, Infinity Network. Where his previous book, The Chemical Life (2017), examined the self as an entity mediated by medication, recreational drugs and various other forms of biological intervention, Johnstone’s current work considers how our identities are incarnated and refracted through the prism of digital media. As

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USEREVIEW 096 (Capsule): Renaissance Normcore

USEREVIEW 096 (Capsule): Renaissance Normcore

Adèle BarclayRenaissance Normcore (Nightwood Editions, 2019)ISBN 978-0-88971-360-4 | 96 pp | $18.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Early in the pandemic, when numbness and lethargy felt like a communal experience, I reread Adèle Barclay’s sophomore poetry collection Renaissance Normcore. I needed something familiar to nudge me back into feeling and Barclay’s work welcomed the plunge. Rereading Renaissance Normcore felt like an impromptu pencil dive into cold, dark water. The initial shock was palpable but the

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USEREVIEW 095 (Capsule): Entering Sappho

USEREVIEW 095 (Capsule): Entering Sappho

Sarah DowlingEntering Sappho (Coach House Books, 2020)ISBN 978-1-55245-418-3 | 96 pp | $21.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY The dedication of Entering Sappho begins with “To a future time.” This is reminiscent of the fragments of Sappho, as translated by Sherod Santos: “Someone, I tell you, will remember us, / even in another time.” Dowling’s book is a historical document and the poems occupy space on the page, allude to history and seek to deviate

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USEREVIEW 094 (Capsule): Feel Ways

USEREVIEW 094 (Capsule): Feel Ways

Adrian De Leon, Téa Mutonji & Natasha Ramoutar, EditorsFeel Ways: A Scarborough Anthology (Mawenzi House, 2021)ISBN 978-1-77415-011-5 | 96 pp | $22.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Feel Ways: A Scarborough Anthology (2021) is an anthology of non-fiction, poetry and prose edited by Adrian De Leon, Téa Mutonji and Natasha Ramoutar. In this collection published by Mawenzi House Publishers, writers locate themselves and their stories within the suburb of Scarborough, ON. This collection pays homage

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USEREVIEW 093: Critical Pictures

USEREVIEW 093: Critical Pictures

How can a critic respond to Zane Koss‘ debut collection, Harbour Grids (Invisible Publishing, 2022), which, despite being “a long poem in four parts” is textually, and even visually, sparse, defined as much by absence as by presence? In this experimental review, John Nyman mirrors Koss’ terse and spatial form, in an attempt to approach the text on its own terms — to chart a route for readers through the breakwater and steer us clearly

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USEREVIEW 092 (Capsule): If You Discover a Fire

USEREVIEW 092 (Capsule): If You Discover a Fire

Shaun RobinsonIf You Discover a Fire (Brick Books, 2020)ISBN 978-1-77131-527-2 | 72 pp | $20 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Like a shadowy watermark, a note of anxiety lies beneath the cool, attentive observations of Vancouver-based Shaun Robinson’s debut poetry collection, If You Discover a Fire. It is this mixed tone, a sort of muted dread, and not a common subject, that unites the poems in the book. In this, Robinson shirks the current trend

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USEREVIEW 091 (Capsule): Iceland Is Melting and So Are You

USEREVIEW 091 (Capsule): Iceland Is Melting and So Are You

Talya RubinIceland Is Melting and So Are You (Book*hug Press, 2021)ISBN 978-1-77166-722-7 | 92 pp | $20 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY The second poetry collection from Australia-based Canadian poet Talya Rubin, Iceland Is Melting and So Are You is a climate elegy for the Anthropocene. By turns doleful and playful, even comic, the collection is organized into four sections — ‘Dead Ice,’ ‘Tidewater,’ ‘Drift’ and ‘Chatter Marks.’ ‘Dead Ice’ comprises many of the collection’s

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USEREVIEW 090 (Capsule): Current, Climate

USEREVIEW 090 (Capsule): Current, Climate

Rita WongCurrent, Climate (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2021)ISBN 978-1-77112-443-0 | 104 pp | $15.99 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Another effective and concise contribution to the Laurier Poetry Series, Current, Climate: The Poetry of Rita Wong presents poems from Rita Wong’s multiple collections (some authored independently, some written in collaboration), as selected and introduced by Nicholas Bradley, an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Victoria. Wong’s work and Bradley’s critical

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USEREVIEW 089: Mute as a Riot

USEREVIEW 089: Mute as a Riot

In this traditional review, Mark Laliberte offers a ouevre-spanning retrospective as context for mid-career writer Gustave Morin‘s latest poetry collection, Gongo Dodan (New Star books, 2022), the first language-forward book from this otherwise ‘visually dominant’ author. ISBN 978-1-55420-186-0  | 88 pp | $16 CAD — BUY Here (publisher) or if you’re in Windsor, get copies at Biblioasis Bookshop #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY After several decades of producing visually dominant ‘writing’ & releasing a constellation of projects falling into

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