Saturday, 26 November 2011

Poetry awards: Established masters and new voices all merit prizes

Poetry awards: Established masters and new voices all merit prizes


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This was a review of 4 books by poets, Susan Musgrave, Phil Hall, Garry Thomas Morse, and me. Excerpted out the paragraphs about Some frames.

Montrealer Jack Hannan has been publishing poetry in chapbooks with limited circulation since the 1970s, but his volume Some Frames (Cormorant, 108 pages, $18), which was a finalist for the QWF’s A.M. Klein Prize, is his first full book publication. It compiles many of his poems published previously in chapbooks and journals, as well as unpublished work.
Hannan’s aesthetic revolves around fragments and impressions. At his best, he provides a sequence of details, allowing the reader to discover a narrative, or to accept that the details don’t require narrative. “A poem in the kitchen,” one of Hannan’s more recent poems, provides a fascinating pastiche of fragments and impressions. It begins with the mundane – “Today I bring home chocolate bees \ penne, a baguette, garlic and milk” – and sees the poet compile random scenes on the métro – “people reading \ over your shoulder, the noise \ of a boy bouncing a basketball on the subway platform.” Midway through the poem, Hannan introduces a hint of menace: “today I heard our own daughter say ‘actually \ it’s all dangerous.’ ” The poem meanders through a sequence of more random impressions before a startling ending: “what’s that person over there doing? \ Oh no!” To Hannan, I would give an award for showing us that poetry can exist in the vérité of fractured existence, and for forcing the reader to do the work of discovery.

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