MAX RIVTO – THE FINAL VOICE MAILS (MILKWEED EDITIONS 2018)
I picked this book up at Type Books in Toronto, I think Ali Blythe might have mentioned Max Rivto to me. I have never seen so emotional after reading a book of poems, for me it is a true stand out that grapples with the hard interiors of life through such an original, authentic lens.
SOUVANKHAM THAMMAVONGSA – CLUSTER (McLELLAND & STEWART 2019)
I found this book in this little town on the way back from Ottawa, and I remembered it because Kayla Czaga recommended it. What Thammavongsa is able to with a handful of words, what she is able to do in just a single line of poetry is jaw-dropping. I dog-eared the poem “Christmas”, and the following poem, “Twins” resonated with me as well.
STEVIE HOWELL – I LEFT NOTHING INSIDE ON PURPOSE (McLELLAND & STEWART 2018)
I loved the line in this book “a black lab bolts like he broke/through a fence to the real field”—I just feel there is a lot going on there visually, and you can say that about many poems in the book. I loved “Did….a malachite write this” for its originality, but what really got me were the sound associations and Howell’s ability and skill with rhymes.
GARRY THOMAS MORSE – SAFETY SAND (TALON BOOKS 2017)
There are so many levels and surprises in this book that I could not wait to finish it. I loved the form and how some of the poems trickled down the page like spring water. Everything read as refreshing, insightful and ingenious, and what happens to some of Morse’s Transmutations of Baudelaire made my brain a lightbulb.
DOYALI ISLAM – HEFT (McLELLAND & STEWART 2019)
Before I picked by Doyali’s book I read with her at this poetry reading and I could not take my eyes off the way she performs a poem, such a powerful presence. The form of the poems are of course totally unique. The poem, “The Ant” when you read it feels like you are watching it, if that makes any sense at all. Clear and concise, and full of magical paths for you to walk down.
Matthew Walsh released their debut poetry collection under the whimsical title These are not the potatoes of my youth in 2019. The book offers a confessional chronicle of Walsh’s upbringing in rural Nova Scotia and then meanders across the country as the poet explores their queer identity with humour, surprise and frankness. Walsh has previously contributed poetry to publications like The Malahat Review and Arc. They are now based in Toronto.