Recent Reading: June, 2011

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I haven’t had the chance to read much poetry in the last couple of months for a variety of reasons (work, ill use of personal time, etc), but I have managed to read a couple that I very much enjoyed. The most recent follows:

Ray Hsu, Cold Sleep Permanent Afternoon (Nightwood Editions, 2010)

Ray Hsu, Cold Sleep Permanent Afternoon: I acquired the book from Hsu who received my book in trade and was more than happy to do so after hearing of the success of his first book Anthropy. Cold Sleep Permanent Afternoon has also won an Alcuin Award for design as well, so that’s an added positive. I enjoy books of poetry that focus on language and its connection to humanity and this title makes such a connection nicely. The book is divided into two sections, “Plural” and “Singular”, emphasizing the varied aspects of human association with others. Such a division also plays on levels of identity we all have (whether part of a group, or individual). There is also ample use of the first, second, and third person perspectives to provide a broad approach to our struggles as humans. Hsu employs a dramatic form throughout, giving voice to groups or specific people, even including the classical Chorus technique to provide societal links, not only through time and across cultures, but to reinforce a music inherent in the book, that of verse and refrain, progress and stasis, a re-examining of our understanding of ourselves and the world.

Favourite quote: “Brutal as things are / even someone like me has charm. / Even if I were who I’d want / to be, would I spend my days with you?” (“King”, p. 67)

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