Five Chapbooks, by Therese Renaud, Michael Ondaatje, Mary Ruefle, Jim Goar, and Pablo Picasso

I’m going to count these five chapbooks as a single title although together they are probably equivalent to two books (of poetry).

The Sands of Dream (Therese Renaud)

This is a BookThug reissue of the classic Renaud text, translated from the French by Ray Ellenwood. This chapbook is considered by some to be the first significant Surrealist publication in Canada and has exerted significant influence in Quebec. It’s a bit dated as most of the Surrealist work is but there are sparkling, exciting moments nonetheless.

Elimination Dance (Michael Ondaatje)

This is a fun, elegant, and ultimately affecting poem modeled on “those dances where a caller decides, seemingly randomly, who is forbidden to continue dancing.” One of Ondaatje’s better poems.

A Little White Shadow (Mary Ruefle)

Ruefle has whited-out a source text to produce this fragmentary and beautiful poem, one of the better and more beautiful examples of this tactic.

Whole Milk (Jim Goar)

This is something of a Surrealist storybook: “I open the refrigerator door. There is only one hot dog left. I cut it in two. It is filled with leaves. She says this is common . . . In parting she gives me her arm. This feels a bit dramatic, so I hide it under my coat.”

Hunk of Skin (Pablo Picasso)

A pretty little publication by City Lights, a translation of a series of poems by Picasso himself, which become increasingly fragementary and difficult to “read,” until literally a list of numbers.

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