Moondoggy Recommends #10

Tom Thomson in Purgatory by Troy Jollimore
Moondoggy Recommends has been on hiatus for a while but now it's back, baby!

Not too long ago, Nova Scotia native, Troy Jollimore, who is now an associate professor of philosophy at California State University at Chico, seemingly came out of nowhere and became the first Canadian-American to win American's prestigious 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for his debut poetry collection, Tom Thomson in Purgatory.

With poems appearing in recent issues of Poetry and The Believer, there's been a lot of hype for Jollimore and he's being touted as the next big thing.

Wanting to know what all the fuss was about, I picked up Tom Thomson in Purgatory and gave it a go. My response: absolutely well worth the fuss!

It's certainly nice to see a fellow Canuck making it as a poet in the U.S. but more importantly, I'm impressed by Jollimore's writing.

Jollimore has found his muse in Tom Thomson, the influential painter whose life, work, and mysterious death have now become legendary in Canada.

One would suppose that references to Thomson would not translate well to an audience not overly familiar with his work but Jollimore has crafted a fictitious Thomson, a persona so fascinating and compelling that one doesn't have to know anything about the real Tom Thomson to appreciate the poetry.

The Tom Thomson sonnets that make up the majority of the book are filled with a multitude of voices and surprising linguistic inversions that were no doubt influenced by John Berryman's 'Henry' from The Dream Songs.

While the title poem series is great, pieces that make up the first part of the book, From the Boy Scout Manual, are written in a different tone but are just as enjoyable and moving.

Jollimore's range, here, is well displayed and he is one of those poets who is able to be both mysterious and concise at the same time. Poems like "The Divers", "Cosmology", "A Plea for Silence", are incredibly haunting and beautiful. While poems like "Light", "From the Boy Scout Manual", and "How to Get There", are hilarious.

View Troy Jollimore's website.

Read samples of Jollimore's poetry.

Reviews of Tom Thomson in Purgatory here and here.

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