A Ragged Pen: Essays on Poetry & Memory (Robert Finley et al)

A Ragged Pen collects work by Robert Finley, Patrick Friesen, Aislinn Hunter, Anne Simpson, and Jan Zwicky. The bulk of the book is taken up with essays on the lyrical poem and its relation to memory.

From the obligatory essay on Orpheus (by Simpson) to Zwicky’s epigrammatic meditations (“Lyric is indifferent to death”) this is a fairly predictable look at the topic. While the essay on Orpheus is intelligent and Zwicky in fine form, little in this book really grabbed and held my attention with true force. I picked up this book for Patrick Friesen’s contribution — Friesen is a poet with an unparalleled sense of musicality in his lines — and his essay is engaging and plainspoken but I’d still rather read his poetry (there are a few poems here).

Ultimately, it’s a good book on the topic but I feel that this ground has been trodden many times before and there are few fresh, exciting insights.

— Jonathan Ball

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