Research shows that most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.
This month we're pleased to present the picks of Jennifer LoveGrove (Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes), Marjorie Celona (Y), Veronika Martenova Charles (The Land Beyond the Wall), Leanne Dunic (To Love the Coming End), and Danika Stone (Internet Famous).
Jennifer LoveGrove recommends RM Vaughan's Troubled
This is a poetry collection about a love affair. About the end of a love affair. About a relationship between a psychiatrist and a patient. And the patient is the poet.
I’ve been a fan of RM Vaughan’s poetry since I first read it in the 90s, and this 2008 book has all of his characteristic ferocity, wit, and beautiful, devastating imagery. The collection depicts a dangerous, fraught, taboo relationship—one between a psychiatrist and patient. One where the patient, this time, is the poet. To say it is autobiographical would be an understatement; it is fiercely vulnerable, it is the poetry of redemption and vengeance and testimony, and it is devastating and beautiful.
I think it’s easy, for many of us, to take the July 1 holiday for granted. I mean, what better way to kick off the heights of summer than with a stat, right? Especially when that stat is on a Friday, so you’ve got a three-day weekend. Time you can spend grilling and sipping and hiking and gardening and swimming and generally playing in the sun (though, if you’re me, the long weekend seems, traditionally, to be one of cleaning and organizing and general housework, I’m not sure why).
Too often, though, the significance of July 1 is lost, or overlooked. It’s not just any holiday, it’s Canada Day, a chance to celebrate what it means to be Canadian.
This is not as easy as it appears. As Canadians, we tend not to go in for jingoism or fervent national pride. We’re well aware of our problem areas, our shadows. Sure, there are fireworks (literally, in some places), but we tend to be thoughtful about what Canada means, what Canada is.
The other thing we tend to do is celebrate year-round, in our own low-key way. Look at the arts. We’re talking about a nation unified in its support of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie following the announcement of his cancer. And we’re a nation that regularly has writers appearing on the shortlists for international prizes.
But even that is somewhat ridiculous—we don’t need international recognition for our writers; we know Canada’s literature belongs on the world stage. It’s a given. More importantly, and crucially, we’re a nat …
I’m thrilled to be in conversation with Betsy Warland, author of Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas, published by Dagger Editions, an imprint of Caitlin Press. This genre-bending book explores questions of who we are in the spaces between—in the gaps and pauses between relationships, physical spaces, creative projects, world events, and the very ideas and constructed narratives of who we are.
The Lambda Literary Review calls the book “... an achievement. It reminds readers of the vitality of Warland’s creative vision. Rigorously inquisitive, always probing the boundaries of language and identity, and centrally concerned with questions of beauty and transcendence in all forms, Oscar of Between straddles multiple poetry traditions and challenges the boundaries of poetry and prose.”
Betsy Warland is the author of 12 books of poetry and creative nonfiction including her bestselling 2010 book of essays on writing, Breathing the Page—Reading the Act of Writing. In March of 2016, Oscar of Between—A Memoir of Identity and Ideas wa …