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 Dowling’s book is a historical document and the poems occupy space on the page, allude to history and seek to deviate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 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 087 (Capsule): Punctum

USEREVIEW 087 (Capsule): Punctum

Dona Mayoora & Gary BarwinPunctum (Gap Riot Press, 2021)ISBN 978-1-7774620-4-8 | 24 pp | $10 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Dona Mayoora maps a layer of focal points on the surface of her face, then weaves them together with butcher’s string, as samples of simulated cosmic noise coalesce, overlap and bustle around her. The noise comes from Professor Teresa Brainerd’s class on Cosmology at Boston University; Brainerd’s research includes investigating the way dark matter haloing

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USEREVIEW 086 (Capsule): Barcode Poetry

USEREVIEW 086 (Capsule): Barcode Poetry

Kyle FlemmerBarcode Poetry (The Blasted Tree, 2021)ISBN 978-1-98790-671-4 | 124 pp | $20 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Early critics with an apocalyptic bent decried them as the ‘Mark of the Beast.’ But since the early ‘80s, barcodes have become such a ubiquitous part of our material culture that the average consumer is unlikely to notice them until the self-checkout machine starts acting up. Kyle Flemmer foregrounds the barcode (literally — he puts the book’s

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USEREVIEW 085 (Capsule): Machine Dreams

USEREVIEW 085 (Capsule): Machine Dreams

Liam Burke X Natalie HannaMachine Dreams (Collusion Books, 2021)ISBN 978-1-77722-448-6 | 48 pp | $16 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Liam Burke and Natalie Hanna’s circuit-bent verse gives voice to the forces of commerce, war, industry and scientific research that we so easily relegate to background noise, footnotes to the history of progress. ‘Adventures in total artifice’ races one of the world’s first artificial hearts against the all-too-human ticker and its secrets, and ‘primal road

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USEREVIEW 082 (Capsule): Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer

USEREVIEW 082 (Capsule): Tacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer

Rax KingTacky: Love Letters to the Worst Culture We Have to Offer (Vintage Books, 2021)ISBN 978-0-59331-272-8 | 208 pp | $21.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Rax King is good at two things: she makes me care about the things I’ve unjustly overlooked, and she validates my brilliant little mind for caring about the things that I do. In Tacky, her debut collection of personal essays from Vintage Books, King pays homage to lowbrow culture.

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USEREVIEW 081 (Capsule): undergrad: a commonplace book

USEREVIEW 081 (Capsule): undergrad: a commonplace book

Laila El Mugammarundergrad: a commonplace book (2021)ISBN 978-1-77779-150-6 | 108 pp | $19.99 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Undergrad: a commonplace book is Laila El Mugammar’s self-published debut collection. It serves as a literary scrapbook from El Mugammar’s time as an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph. Featuring academic essays, personal essays, speeches and fiction, undergrad examines and illuminates anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, queerness, disordered eating and much more within the context of university campuses and

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USEREVIEW 080 (Capsule): Dreaming of You

USEREVIEW 080 (Capsule): Dreaming of You

Melissa Lozada-OlivaDreaming of You (Astra House Books, 2021)ISBN 978-1-66260-059-3 | 192 pp | $30.00 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY To call a book ‘haunting’ is a cliché. Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s debut novel, Dreaming of You (Astra House Books, 2021) is haunted — an important distinction. This novel-in-verse is so haunted, in fact, that it holds a séance to resurrect Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla. It’s so haunted that it’s narrated by a gossiping Greek chorus. It’s

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USEREVIEW 078 (Capsule): Approaching Fire

USEREVIEW 078 (Capsule): Approaching Fire

Michelle PorterApproaching Fire (Breakwater Books, 2020)ISBN 978-1-55081-853-6 | 192 pp | $19.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Michelle Porter’s 2020 memoir, Approaching Fire, approaches its subject with depth, sensitivity and purpose. Following Porter’s journey to find out more about her great-grandfather, the Métis fiddler Léon Robert Goulet, the book deftly blends research, reporting, personal narrative, family history, poetry and found media. Print ephemera anchor the factual discoveries Porter makes about her great-grandfather’s life, while bearing

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USEREVIEW 077 (Capsule): Be Scared of Everything: Horror Essays

USEREVIEW 077 (Capsule): Be Scared of Everything: Horror Essays

Peter CounterBe Scared of Everything: Horror Essays (Invisible Publishing, 2020)ISBN 978-1-98878-456-4 | 200 pp | $20.95 CAD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY In his 2020 debut essay collection, Be Scared of Everything: Horror Essays, Peter Counter turns sharp, thoughtful attention to one of literature and film’s most critically under-appreciated genres: horror. The collection, published by Invisible Publishing, is based on Counter’s horror blog, Everything is Scary, and the essays in the book retain a breezy pace

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USEREVIEW 076 (Capsule): alfabet / alphabet

USEREVIEW 076 (Capsule): alfabet / alphabet

Sadiqa de Meijeralfabet / alphabet (Palimpsest Press, 2020)ISBN 978-1-92679-460-6 | 100 pp | $15.95 CAD / $14.95 USD | BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Surely there is no one to better explore the limits, beauty and vagaries of language than a poet, someone who has dedicated their life to engaging in a deep relationship with words. Sadiqa de Meijer, who has previously published two poetry collections, turns her attention to memoir in Alfabet / Alphabet. Subtitled ‘a

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USEREVIEW 074 (Capsule): Leonard Cohen: On a Wire

USEREVIEW 074 (Capsule): Leonard Cohen: On a Wire

Philippe Girard (Writer and Illustrator), Helge Dascher and Karen Houle (Translators)Leonard Cohen: On a Wire (Drawn & Quarterly, 2021)ISBN 978-1-77046-489-6 | 120 pp | $29.95 CAD — BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY This graphic biography of the famous poet and musician from Montreal is told in a series of flashbacks as Cohen lies dying. To condense a life as rich and varied as Cohen’s in a mere 119 pages is no easy task but Girard’s flashback format

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USEREVIEW 073 (Capsule): The Good Fight

USEREVIEW 073 (Capsule): The Good Fight

Ted Staunton (Writer), Josh Rosen (Illustrator)The Good Fight (Scholastic Canada, 2021)ISBN 978-1-44316-383-5 | 224 pp | $16.95 CAD — BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY I’m glad this book exists. Staunton and Rosen do a good job of shedding light on a shameful chapter of Toronto’s history, when pro-Hitler fascists openly roamed the city’s streets. In 1933, hundreds of members of The Balmy Beach Swastika Club painted Nazi symbols on their clothing, carried placards with anti-Semitic slogans, flashed

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USEREVIEW 072 (Capsule): Weeding

USEREVIEW 072 (Capsule): Weeding

Genevieve LeBleuWeeding (Conundrum Press, 2021)ISBN 978-1-77262-048-1  |  102 pp | $18.00 CAD — BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Weeding is a fantastic and deeply weird graphic novel. LeBleu’s artwork is reminiscent of Strange Growths by Jenny Zervakis and Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs. There’s a touch of Rory Hayes in there, too.  Martha is hosting a tea party inside her house. Outside, Martha’s garden is overrun with weeds with eyes and tendril-like vines and a Venus flytrap-style

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USEREVIEW 069 (Capsule): Dominant Genes

USEREVIEW 069 (Capsule): Dominant Genes

SJ SinduDominant Genes (Black Lawrence Press, 2022)ISBN 978-1-62557-717-7 | 37 pp | $9.95 USD — BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY Dominant Genes is one of the latest chapbooks by Tamil diaspora writer SJ Sindu, published by Black Lawrence Press. This genre-bending book is playful and fierce; stark and lyrical; tender and packed with satisfying, full-blooming rage. Sindu examines many facets of her life in Dominant Genes, including sex and sexuality, genderqueerness and the hold of familial and

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USEREVIEW 068 (Capsule): Alignment

USEREVIEW 068 (Capsule): Alignment

Ashley-Elizabeth BestAlignment (Rahila’s Ghost Press, 2021)ISBN 978-1-98946-309-3 | 29 pp | $12 CAD — BUY Here #CAROUSELreviews#USEREVIEWEDNESDAY There’s violence in interpretation, and Alignment — a chapbook by disabled poet and essayist Ashley-Elizabeth Best, published by Rahila’s Ghost Press — sheds light on this violence with stunning and shattering insight. Not only does Best explore how language is interpreted, but she also explores the way in which a suffering mind and body are (mis)interpreted through language,

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