Karis Shearer | All these Roads: The Poetry of Louis Dudek | Gazelle Books

A passionate believer in the power of art — and especially poetry — to influence and critique contemporary culture, Louis Dudek devoted much of his life to shaping the Canadian literary scene through his meditative and experimental poems as well as his work in publishing and teaching. This collection brings together thirty-five of Dudek’s poems written over the course of his sixty-year career. Much of Dudek’s poetry is about the practice of art, with comment on the way the craft of poetry is mediated by such factors as university classes, public readings, reviews, commercial presses, and academic conferences. The poems in this selection — witty satires, short lyrics, and long sequences — reflect self-consciously on the relationship between art and life and will draw readers into the dramatic mid-century literary and cultural debates in which Dudek was an important participant. Continue reading

Martha Ronk | In a Landscape of Having to Repeat | Gazelle Books

This book is the Winner of the 15th Annual PEN USA Award in Poetry (2005). With each poetry collection, Martha Ronk has further refined her unique use of the sentence, its textures and tangents, to extend the ways that a meditative lyric might address the most intimate and subtle experiences of living. Yet Ronk’s diction remains as direct and urbane as it is mulitvalenced in its range from serious to wry to confidential to questioning. In these poems, we find Ronk’s most stealthy syntactic turns, returns, and juxtapositions, which expose to us the rhetorics we unconsciously use to frame our perceptions of the daily. In a landscape of having to repeat, Ronk offers a language of attention that is composite, disruptive, and vibrantly immediate. Continue reading

Robert Swearingen | Street Milk | Gazelle Books

HIDING THE GUNS FROM OUR MOUTHS: THE STREET MILK OF DARKNESS Writing poetry is dangerous work. Dangerous because nobody pays you to do it. So, why try, right? Dangerous because it can tear off the top of your head and expose the deepest most secret part of your self to the universe. And, dangerous because it invites all your private demons to dance on your eyelids. I read STREET MILK when it first came out several years ago, thought about writing a review, but had no real place to publish it. Since then the book has haunted me in strange and peculiar ways. I’d known Robert Swearingen only because we had occasionally appeared at the same readings. But I didn’t know Swearingen’s work that well. I recall his reading Interview In Milwaukee which was a savagely comic take on a poet who is interviewed for a job by feminist but I didn’t know much else about the man. I didn’t know that he was from Hammond, Indiana, which is not that far from Chicago. I didn’t know that he had a degree in English. I didn’t know that his uncle had worked most of his life for the Illinois Central Railroad. My grandfather, my father, and my uncle had all worked for the Illinois Central back in the 1920s. — Todd Moore Continue reading

Harvey Stanbrough | Beyond the Masks: New and Selected Poems | Gazelle Books

Harvey Stanbrough is a poet, essayist, and fictionist. Collections of his poetry have been nominated for a National Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a Frankfurt Award and, along with Maya Angelou, the Inscriptions Magazine Engraver’s Award. Harvey works as a full-time freelance editor and speaks at writers’ conferences around the nation. His previous poetry collections include On Love & War & Other Fallacies, Residua, Lessons for a Barren Population, and Intimations of the Shapes of Things. His comprehensive collection, Beyond the Masks, is available from Central Ave Press. Harvey’s nonfiction titles include Punctuation for Writers and Writing Realistic Dialogue & Flash Fiction. Continue reading

Harry Smith | Little Things | Gazelle Books

This collection contains fifty-two new poems by the venerable literary activist/publisher/poet Harry Smith, selected by the poet at the age of seventy-one. The collection is divided into two sections of poems. The first, Modern Ballads, celebrates common objects of nature and experiences, based in narrative. The second section, Olden Lyrics, contains a wide variety of lyric poems that are simultaneously both deft and expansive. Smith’s work displays a level of humor and philosophy seldom encountered in contemporary literature. Highly recommended for all collections of current American poetry. Continue reading

Robert Allen | Magellan’s Clouds | Gazelle Books

Philosopher, romantic, a teller of tales, Robert Allen exhibits a humour rare to the serious job of the poet. What marks the pages of Magellan’s Clouds most is the stamp of the clear-seer and the attentive listener. Novelist, editor, publisher and teacher, Robert Allen is first a poet. Born in Bristol, England, he was educated at the University of Toronto and Cornell University. Robert Allen lived in Montreal where he teached literature at Concordia University. Robert Allen (1946–2006) lived in Montreal and Ayer’s Cliff in Quebec’s Eastern Townships and taught creative writing at Concordia University. He is the author of fourteen books of poetry and prose including the poetry collections Magellan’s Clouds (1987), Ricky Ricardo Suites (2000), Standing Wave (2005) and The Encantadas (2007). Born in Bristol, England he was educated at the University of Toronto and Cornell University. He was the editor of the longest-running Anglo-Quebec literary journal, Matrix, which has published and supported most of the other poets in this current survey. Continue reading

Kirby Congdon | God is Dead | Gazelle Books

Twelve one-act plays about the meaning of life. With crisp, precise dialogue, insightful characterisation and streamlined plot development, Congdon compels us to question our collective fears, fantasies and foibles. Throughout these philosophical voyages, the theme returns to the nature and meaning of human experience. Individually and collectively, they provoke us to examine deeper issues. Continue reading

Bin Ramke | Tendril | Gazelle Books

In his ninth poetry collection Mr. Ramke exposes the myriad tendrils that bind together to become experience. Both intensely intimate and profoundly objective, his lyrically elegant, vibrantly elastic sentences allow a reader to follow the personal, cultural, literary, philosophic, artistic threads that intertwine to create our conscious understandings. Mr. Ramke examines not only the impact of family, culture, class, gender, historical moment, landscape, but also the ways that the language we use becomes for us the skein of our reality. From inch worm moths to Gregg shorthand, from trash-fishing on the bayou to the horrors of world war, from the healing powers of teatime and the impact of great art and literature to the profound devastation of the floods upon our southern landscape and the people who struggle to live on there, Bin Ramke shows us how the tendrils of meaning running through them all are made of words, which weave together to form the fabric of our lives. Continue reading

Stephanie Bolster | White Stone: The Alice Poems | Gazelle Books

WHITE STONE: THE ALICE POEMS was judged the best book of poetry in 1998 for as many reasons as there are poems in this powerful sequence, but due primarily to Stephanie Bolster’s ability to depict the emotional life of Alice Liddell as girl and woman in brilliant narrative juxtapositions. She uses her lyrical powers to present Alice the creation and Alice the person in a cultural context that, on one level, re-examines cognition and dissociation and on another, liberates the poetic sequence from the monotony of story and closure. — The Governor General’s Award jury citation 1998 Continue reading