29 July 2016

Sparrow reviewed in Winnipeg Free Press

Jonathan Ball is a Canadian poetry hero. He runs the only — so far as I know — regular poetry-review column in a Canadian newspaper. He crams three or four reviews into each installment, so they are short, but he always makes his point, and in a lively fashion.

In the June 25 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press, he wrote about A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent, along with three other really interesting books, including Jason Heroux's Hard Working Cheering Up Sad Machines, which came out this past spring under my "a stuart ross book" imprint with Mansfield. Here's what he wrote about Sparrow:

Stuart Ross’s A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent (Wolsak and Wynn/Buckrider, 68 pages, $18) captures one of Canada’s most inventive and overlooked poets in fine form. "This is a poem about Johnny Cash / as the line above this one clearly states" — this fun, plain-spoken assertion seems to set the stage for a silly poem, but actually presages a crushing, sad scene.

This is Ross’s oft-utilized but never-predictable method: to combine an observation that seems tossed-off and un-poetic with a harrowing image or something more complex than it at first appears.

"The books are full of words / but what’s a word?"

"I wrote a poem. I was / lonely. I wrote a poem / describing how I was / lonely. Many a person / said I should write a book."

There’s a clever joke and an existential crisis both crushed into those clean lines. Ross wins again.
 Over and out.


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