Praise: An Introduction

“A quotation is a cicada. It is part of its nature to never quiet down.” That’s Russian poet Osip Mandelshtam in his essay on Dante.

How’s everything feeling today in your Canada, on Canada Day?

I’m in the Bibliothèque Nationale, hunched over the same copy of Matrix Magazine for the second day in a row, reading the poems of Suzannah Showler.

Aisha Sasha John’s sequence is punching a hole through the room right now at this bar in Toronto.

John Wall Barger is reading in Halifax, walking us through the memory of a recent massacre overseas, at the end of his litany saying "I would like to sing your music backwards."

How’s everything feeling today in your Canada, on Canada Day? Me? Not so good, not so good. Regarding the current political climate, I have my laundry list of quotable grievances and fears.

But when I first cracked the spine of Sara Peters’s 1996, I felt all of the cold rain in Antigonish, and that was a very good day. The day that Elena E. Johnson’s envoys from the Yukon backcountry came across my desk during my short tenure editing with The Fiddlehead was also a very good day. And when that big bank put out a chapbook including a few of Vancouver resident Raoul Fernandes’s poems on the web, I had to track down his profile to try to say thanks.

Transparency isn’t necessarily what any of the following poems are after. Poems are only ‘transparent’ insofar as their readers believe in the concept or construct. For me the thrill of experiencing a citizen going public with what I perceive—rightly or wrongly—as an effort towards that concept (or construct)—as reader or writer, as speaker or listener—never quiets down. 

And cheerleading like this isn’t change. And poetry isn’t necessarily politics. I don’t know these six poets well or what each of their separate artistic intentions—fluid, evolving—actually are, but their poems have added a shade and a depth to my concept of ‘country’ at specific points during the past year or two. Years where I’ve needed it.

“A good education is a school of the most rapid associations: you grasp things on the wing, you are sensitive to allusions—this is Dante’s favorite form of praise.”

That is Osip Mandelshtam again; whose words outlast his time.

Nick Thran is a Contributing Editor of Forget.

Published On: July 1, 2013
Permanent Location:

Volume 7, Issue 3
Canada Day, 2013


Forget Magazine

The Falling Man
John Wall Barger

Dear Liza
Raoul Fernandes

After the Porcupine
Aisha Sasha John

Instructions For Dancing
Elena E. Johnson

Sara Peters

Rapture Begets Sweater Begets Rapture
Suzannah Showler

Feb 12, 2001 - Present

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6


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