The Dominion hails the advent of Jeramy Dodds

By Robert Kotyk
The Dominion
January 28 2009

The title of Jeramy Dodds's Crabwise to the Hounds suggests a connection to circuitousness (crabwise) and surrealism (ditto), but the result is an unambiguously confident debut collection from a rich new Canadian poet. If one of the creatures from a Marcel Dzama watercolour got its paws on some John Ashbery, the result might sound like Dodds, whose voice is unmistakably local though far from provincial. Running through the collection, in other words, is a rigorous sense of taste, as several of the poems’ first stanzas open with a provocative declaration ('In his stovepipe hat, he hunted / to extinction the animals that brought / us déjà vu.'), that beckon the reader towards the subsequent lines packed with the most lushly rendered imagery.

Dodds's spectacular diction and the wide range of his subjects reveal an unconventionally educated imagination and spirit of inquiry aimed at the natural world. Strange, pseudo-Canadian landscapes appear in 'Crown Land,' ('Some warped beasts pinched off / the rag-and-bone rack, ones that / bit by barbed bit were forced to / fisticuffs in the scrub slump of hills'), while the breathless showstopper, 'Glenn Gould Negotiates the Danube in the Company of a Raven,' provides the capstone for this dazzling book by a young talent already refined.

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