Once upon a time, The Globe and Mail ran a column called “How Poems Work” that I always admired, though I never got to write for it myself. It was eventually cut, in a general reduction of that newspaper’s books coverage.
Later, the Lemonhound website published a number of these essays, including a couple I wrote. You can see them all here:
Meanwhile, as one of the jurors of the 2016 Griffin Prize, I read a lot of poetry recently. I’ve been trying to think about how to be productive with that reading. So much good work crossed my lap this year, and I want to find ways to honour it, especially books that did not make the shortlist.
The idea is to write short (~1000 word) essays that introduce a single poem and explain some of what I think makes the poem interesting. Part of my motivation is an extension of my teaching: so many people are afraid of contemporary poetry, and I hope these short introductions might help ease that discomfort. Part of my motivation is also to spread love to some poems and poets I’ve admired in my reading but who haven’t gotten a lot of attention paid to them. And part of my motivation is to start a project that engages my critical faculties in small bites, because that’s what I seem to be best at.
If you’ve happened upon this site at this stage, it’s still in beta testing. More to come as I finish a few more essays to post.