Three of my favorite Canadian poets writing today (David McGimpsey, Jason Camlot, and Stuart Ross) invaded Rust Belt Books in Buffalo, New York recently and got a nice write-up with some brief interviews from Artvoice. Darn, I would have loved to have gone to see the reading but I was teaching.
McGimpsey's Sitcom was one of my favorite poetry collections of '07 and if the quality of Camlot and Ross' previous books are any indication (the hilarious and cerebral Attention All Typewriters and the New York School inspired surrealism of I Cut My Finger respectively), then their new books should be definite must-reads.
Camlot’s latest effort, The Debaucher (Insomniac), is fueled by totally naughty pun-filled lyric poems, such as the suggestively titled “Since I have stuck my tongue…” and “To Your Pink.” His translations of Baudelaire, Verlaine, and other French modernists are superior by virtue of their colloquial ease. Camlot’s poetry is a perfect mix of the musical (he’s a singer-songwriter), intellectual, and playful. And if my recommendation isn’t enough, consider that one of America’s most eminent poetry critics, Marjorie Perloff, praises Camlot as “a remarkable poet.”
David McGimpsey’s latest book, Sitcom (Coach House), is largely composed of extended dramatic monologues, often satirical, sometimes slapstick, yet always touched by an elegiac sensibility. McGimpsey expresses an affection for, and an affinity with, the citizens of “loserville”: failed lovers and professors, the overweight and balding, and misanthropic recluses who spend days analyzing episodes of Hawaii Five-O (Sitcom includes four poems about the Five-O, including “Aloha” and “McGarret”—seriously.) McGimpsey was recently named one of Montreal’s five greatest living literary figures, alongside the likes of Leonard Cohen and Booker-winning Yann Martel.
Hot on the heels of last year’s I Cut My Finger (Anvil Press) is another book of poetry by Stuart Ross, Dead Cars at Managua (DC Books). Ross made a name for himself as part of Toronto’s small press poetry scene in the 1970s. His poetry is very much indebted to the New York School of poetry (Ashbery, Berrigan, Padgett, et al). A title from one of his recent poems aptly summarizes his style: “Because one thing bumped into another”—it’s the poetic equivalent of bumper-cars: It may, at first, seem meaningless chaos but afterwards the experience of the linguistic whiplash sticks with you.