Review of James Langer’s Collection by Carmine Starnino

James Langer, Gun Dogs (Anansi, 2009)
James Langer, Gun Dogs (Anansi, 2009)

Through web browsing as a way of avoiding other work, I’ve come across a review in the Globe and Mail of James Langer’s first book Gun Dogs. Starnino is the reviewer and takes an interesting look at the prosody at play here and where it fits into the world of contemporary poetric expression. It’s well worth your reading, if not for Langer’s book, then for a brief commentary on the use of sound placement in Canadian writing.

I must say I feel as though I’ve been down this road as well. As writers we are often inspired by what we see/read around us. There’s a need to be connected in some way with the movement of poetry in the country (its habits, likes and dislikes) while remaining acutely singular. The idea that vowels and consonant sounds are often clustered to produce a kind of music is quite true. I guess the issue is whether or not it’s ad nauseam. I found in my earlier writing (a few pieces of which may have made it into my forthcoming book) I enjoyed this pairing of words by sound. It produced something special when read, aloud in particular. I’ve noticed, possibly as a natural progression within my own creative self, I’m moving away from this; instead of connecting words within a line I often span the sonic play across lines, sometimes three and four at a time. I feel this paces the effort, both for my writing and the reader’s experience.

I quite enjoyed Langer’s book and, though at times, I have to agree with Starnino that the word play is a little intense I recognize where it’s coming from and the tradition that’s been cultivated in this country. Anyway, the article does provide some food for thought.

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