Sunday, February 08, 2009

Vancouver: A Poem and "the constant destruction and reconstructions of capitalism"

The building at Broadway & Commercial (northeast corner) was torn down because of drug dealers, now it's land cleared for a SkyTrain station, & it's behind a fence, & today on the fence they've hung pieces of murals - or of a mural - odd-shaped cutout poster plywood cartoons - images - of the places that were there before - & skimpy string of Christmas lights, & it's supposed to be safe.

(The whole place blown up, & the gas station & the 7-11, a big bloody shootout over drugs, cars crashing into each other, a driver gets shot and falls out of his cab into the snow & then the 7-11 going up in a big explosion. . .

- from George Stanley's latest volume, Vancouver: A Poem.

Stan Persky observes that the publication of this book was met by a curious indifference: If this sort of thing happened in France or Germany, where enough people still care about literature, the absence of attention to a significant literary work by a reasonably well-known author would be considered an intellectual scandal. Rather ironically, it’s the case that in France a segment of Stanley’s Vancouver is available in the most recent issue of the bilingual French literary journal, meet, a Vancouver/Cairo number co-edited by Hadrien Laroche, novelist and cultural attache at the French Consulate in Vancouver. In Canada, however, the little-noticed publication of Stanley’s book is just another, like, whatever, shrug.

I could understand the critical silence if Stanley were simply a novice poet, writing about some tired, poetically precious, or impossibly arcane topic. But he’s not. And it’s not. The 75-year-old self-described “senior” is the author of a dozen or so chapbooks and volumes — including, just in the last decade or so, Seniors (2006), A Tall, Serious Girl (2003), At Andy’s (2000), and Gentle Northern Summer (1995) — and he’s the 2006 winner of the Poetry Society of America’s prestigious Shelley Award. . .

John Harris offers his own take on the book here. My take is that Vancouver: A Poem is fucking brilliant, like.


Blogger Graeme said...

I feel that unless they're by either Margaret Atwood or Leonard Cohen, Canadian poetry books go mainly overlooked. It's a shame, for precisely the reason Stan Persky pointed out: "The one thing perhaps worth saying about the disappearance of poetry from public view is that we’re likely losing a way of understanding something about life that we don’t get from other linguistic modes, such as story, discourse or the language of science."

8:16 AM  

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