It is virtually impossible to argue against the notion that Canadian poetry has come of age. If F.R. Scott was able to say, as recently as 1976, that when he and A.J.M. Smith launched the McGill Fortnightly Review in the mid-1920s “there was not a single Canadian poet we paid much attention to,” no such attitude could prevail in 2014.
From Ken Babstock to Karen Solie, from Erin Mouré to Elizabeth Bachinsky, poetry in Canada has obliterated the boundaries set for it by the Confederation poets, and announced itself, both within and outside our borders, as heterodox, vibrant, and thriving. At least one volume, Christian Bök’s Eunoia, has achieved bona fide bestsellerdom, and Anne Carson has attained something resembling rock-star status.
Sina Queyras and Adam Sol are two prominent figures in the current landscape. Queyras won both the Pat Lowther Award and a Lambda Literary Award for her 2007 collection, Lemon Hound, and has been at the forefront of poetic discourse in Canada as a result of her online literary magazine of the same name. Her 2009 collection, Expressway, was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award. Queyras lives in Montreal, where she teaches in the English department at Concordia University.
Sol’s 2004 book, Crowd of Sounds, won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, and his follow-up, Jeremiah, Ohio, was nominated for the same prize. Sol is a tenured professor at Laurentian University in Barrie, Ontario, teaching courses in literature and creative writing.
With new books out this season – Queyras’s M x T, from Coach House Books, and Sol’s Complicity, from McClelland & Stewart – the time seemed right to get them together for a broad discussion of where Canadian poetry is at present, and where it might be headed.