Yesterday, a friend wrote: We should work to accept that it is unknowable whether one (person, perception, point of view) is objective or subjective. The problem is that there’s no test to know, or, if there is such a test, we have no way of knowing that the test works.
Tonight: throw the test out the window, folks! It’s House of Anansi’s Poetry Bash, featuring new books by Dennis Lee, Barbara Nickel, Erin Moure, and Simon Armitage. Check it out at coupe space, 998 Queen Street East at 7:30 p.m.
Notice how objectivity disappears from these words as soon as Dennis Lee’s Yesno graces this paragraph; if Torontoist had a rating system, this book would receive TTTTT. Yesno picks up where his 2003 UN left off, and grapples with the question of the earth’s and humankind’s future. This is a poet at the top of his game, and though Dennis Lee is widely known as a children’s author, his work for adults seems to be repeatedly under-rated. Dennis was Toronto’s first Poet Laureate and one of Anansi’s founders. For history buffs, read John Metcalf’s “A Collector’s Notes on the House of Anansi,”an article published in Canadian Notes & Queries about the very early days of Anansi and its huge impact on the Canadian culture scene of the 1960’s.
Erin Moure’s surprising O Cadoiro elegantly furthers her interests in Galacian-Portuguese cantigas, translation, and concrete forms. She is most known for her “experimental” work which confounds many readers, but on first glance, this collection looks like experimental lyric poetry. It may offend purists on either side of the traditional and lyric/experimental and avant-garde spectrum, but purists are easily offended, and that in itself is sort of a sport in this country anyway.
We probably won’t get to read Barbara Nickel’s Domain and Simon Armitage’s Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus The Corduroy Kid until after the launch, but look forward to hearing them read their work.
Never been to a book launch, but curious? Book launches are the parties of the literary world, characterized by short readings, good energy, and lots of alcohol. The months of April, May, September and October contain high concentrations of these celebrations. Sometimes poets win you over with a reading, and other times their words are shinier on the page: it’s like the book/movie conundrum. Always feel free to peruse the book table, and if you buy a book, ask the poet to sign it during a quiet moment.
At readings, you might pick up things you missed in the book, or even leave with an entirely new interpretation of the text. Christopher Dewdney often prefaces his readings by asking you to “put your brain in neutral,” so that you’ll feel the work and not just think too hard about it. When poet and audience find this groove together, there’s nothing like it.
Photo of Dennis Lee courtesy of House of Anansi.