The Second Sex (Michael Robbins)

Michael Robbins’s The Second Sex, like his previous collection, Alien vs. Predator, seems to have grown out of a compost heap in which popular culture and the poetic tradition have been tossed aside to rot. Robbins’s style combines a dense, Simpsons-like pace of allusions with extreme formal rigour and a casual, almost careless attitude. Robbins […]

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Designated Mourner (Catherine Owen)

Reading Catherine Owen’s Designated Mourner is uncomfortable and feels wrong. Elegies for a deceased spouse, Owen’s poems are discomforting in the truest sense. This raw, exposed emotion is doubly impressive due to the actual polish of the poems on the craft level. Owen oscillates between simple, stark expressiveness (“We were so perfect / at the […]

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David Annandale on Writing Tie-In Fiction — 011

David Annandale, author of a million WARHAMMER 40,000 novels, discusses writing tie-in fiction. Writing the Wrong Way with Jonathan Ball, PhD is the perfect podcast for serious writers who want to stand out in a crowded industry by becoming more productive while taking more artistic risks. Jonathan Ball, an author with a PhD in literature, […]

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Mockingbird (Derek Webster)

Derek Webster’s Mockingbird examines a death of another sort, with many of the poems tracing the aftermath of a failed marriage. Even vaguer poems, that don’t seem to address this issue, feel loaded against its backdrop: “Libraries burn. / What we thought would last is gone.” However, the best poems call up other poets — […]

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Hera Lindsay Bird (Hera Lindsay Bird)

Hera Lindsay Bird’s self-titled debut, Hera Lindsay Bird, is crammed with shocking and often hilarious imagery, nestled against bare sentiments: “I am falling in love and I don’t know what to do about it / Throw me in a haunted wheelbarrow and set me on fire.” Bird’s introductory poem captures the book’s tone: “I wrote […]

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Ryan Fitzpatrick on Editing a Poetry Book — 009

ryan fitzpatrick is a poet and critic living in Vancouver. He is the author of two books of poetry: Fortified Castles (Talonbooks, 2014) and Fake Math (Snare, 2007). With Jonathan Ball, he is co-editor of Why Poetry Sucks: An Anthology of Humorous Experimental Canadian Poetry (Insomniac, 2014). With Deanna Fong and Janey Dodd, he works on the second […]

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The Demonologist (Andrew Pyper)

Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote that “Hell is other people,” but Andrew Pyper’s Hell is nothing so mundane. The Demonologist is populated by, well, demons, although Pyper remains focused on the earthly torments of his characters.  When literature professor David Ullman loses his daughter Tess after a demonic encounter, he embarks on a journey across countries […]

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Writing in a Haunted House — 008

Jonathan Ball is joined by Lauren Carter, Kevin Marc Fournier, and Joanna Graham to spend a night in the haunted Dalnavert House as a writing retreat and discuss dark fiction and developing ideas. Writing the Wrong Way with Jonathan Ball, PhD is the perfect podcast for serious writers who want to stand out in a […]

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