Ryan Fitzpatrick & Jonathan Ball (Editors), 293 pgs, Insomniac Press, insomniacpress.com, $19.95 US/CDN
Poetry isn’t all serious gazes, pregnant pauses and tweed jackets with elbow patches. There are some clown noses and floppy shoes in there, too. When you think “Humor + Poetry,” you might immediately jump to half-remembered “there once was a man from Nantucket”-style limericks, but thankfully the editors of this anthology have laid out a far more compelling case for why today’s humorous experimental Canadian poetry doesn’t, in fact, suck.
Ladies and Gentlemen of The Humor Jury, may I present a few of my favourites: Lindsay Cahill’s The Simpsons remix poetry takes material that is very familiar to all of us in the Simpsonian Generation (to borrow a term coined by Chris Turner in his awesome book Planet Simpson) and turns that material into something new. Other favorites include Jeramy Dodds’ darkly satirical Cancon explosion “Canadae” examines both oh-so-cherished Canadian mythology and the darker side of Canadian history, while David McGimpsey’s pop-cultural vernacular ‘Summerland’ made me, as the kids say, LOL (Do the kids still say that? Did they ever?). And Kathryn Mockler’s just-between-us-friends dialog poems are seemingly simple but stunningly effective at getting their point across.
I could keep going and going– this book is an embarrassment of riches. If I counted right, there’s 44 poets in this thing, all bound together by a retro-style pastel Sweet Tarts colored cover. It all feels very fresh, real and alive. If you like poetry, humor or Canada– and especially if you like all three– I guarantee* you will find something in here that will tickle your funny bone. *Note: not a guarantee. (A.G. Pasquella)