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This review is taken from PN Review 200, Volume 37 Number 6, June - July 2011.

A MAP OF CANADA SUZANNE BUFFAM, The Irrationalist (House of Anansi Press) $22.95 CDN
ELISABETH HARVOR, An Open Door in the Landscape (Palimpsest Press) $18.00 CDN
STEVEN HEIGHTON, Patient Frame (House of Anansi Press) $22.95 CDN
JENA SCHMITT, Catchment Area (Signature Editions) $14.95 CDN
RICHARD TELEKY, The Hermit in Arcadia (Exile Editions) $16.95 CDN

A year's worth of any single nation's poetry is surely enough to test even faithful admirers. Northrop Frye, who, through the 1950s, published an annual review of Canadian poetry books in University of Toronto Quarterly, rounding up the good and the bad, noted that in 'every year in Canada ... most of the published verse shows the features of occasional amateur writing'. This continues and continues, of course, and is a worldwide phenomenon (and Frye knew that). His reviews were, importantly, bibliographical as well as critical - an element many critics ignore today in their reviewing - but his bibliography and criticism always addressed only what he called the 'serious work'.

These five books are among the serious Canadian work of the last year: a debut, two sophomore and two middle collections. These are not the loudest books, nor the prize-winners (so far), but they are, in their variousnesses, inclusive of the kinds of poetry being written in Canada today and examples of the better ideas about poetry coming out of the country.

The Irrationalist, Suzanne Buffam's second collection, opens with the 'new': 'the new world', 'the new world order', 'a new experience', 'the new Beaujolais', 'the new darkness', 'a new set of sheets for the bed'. There's something modernist (for which, read Poundian) in all this new-ness, and her poems are very modern, pushing the boundaries of the contemporary world, solid yet pliant in their language. In 'Happy Hour', she mixes the staid with ...


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