The American poet Carl Sandburg said that 'poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.' He meant that poetry has the freedom to bring together disparate elements in the world and align them into something surprisingly new.
A new crop of poetry books from Montreal and beyond illustrate the persistent power of poetry to engage in the search for coherence and clarity amid incongruities.
Among the boldest and most original volumes within the group is Expressway, by Montreal poet Sina Queyras.
Sina Queyras' new poetry collection battles the numbing speed of modern life, a hallmark of which the web-savvy poet excels at in her blog about life and the arts, Lemon Hound (also the title of her 2007 Pat Lowther and Lambda Literary award-winning poetry book). Chipping away at the expressway's faux-finish tarmac in favour of a more natural past, these poems offer contemplation as an antidote to a too-fast-and-furious fate.
In her first book of poems since her collection Lemon Hound, Montreal-based Sina Queyras employs the Romantic tradition of pastoral poetry to create passionate indictments of our consumerist, car-obsessed culture and our fast-lane mentality. In 'Solitary,' a woman stands near the I-95, where 'a patch / of emerald turf' is besieged by doggy bags,' the nearby expressway '[s]moothing each nuisance of wild, each terrifying / Quirk of land.'
Read the National Post's 'NaPoMo' (National Poetry Month) questionnaire with Sina Queyras to discover a few of the Expressway author's favourite things poetic.
Q: If you could get everyone in the world to read one poem, what would it be?
A: One poem? Just one? It's impossible to prescribe one poem to all people of all ages and stages of their lives...but at the moment, and perhaps for the next few, it would be 'lullbabye,' from Dennis Lee's UN.
Brian Joseph Davis asks Sina Queyras (Expressway) 'several questions only a well-traveled poet could know the answers to' on the Globe and Mail's book blog, In Other Words. Find out what to do when you're lost in rural New Jersey, the best 1 a.m.
In addition to being the start of the summer movie season, a time for flowers and the last name of Rod Stewart's friend Maggie, May is also the month of Doors Open Toronto and the start of Book Expo America! But here's the thing about May: it's the fifth month of the year, and as such (and because we're stumped for sale ideas), we're taking a fifth of the price off every title on the Coach House site!
From May 30 to June 1, the largest publishing event in North America – Book Expo America (or 'BEA' to those in 'the biz') – is hosted at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, and Coach House will be there. Like every year, the Expo provides booksellers and publishing industry workers a preview of exciting new things happening in the world of books.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council of the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Media Development Corporation for our publishing activities.