is a door

By Fred Wah

is a door
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Including poetry projects, a chapbook and incidental poems previously published in magazines and by small presses, is a door makes use of the poem’s ability for ?suddenness” to subvert closure: the sudden question, the sudden turn, the sudden opening?writing that is generated ... Read more


Overview

Including poetry projects, a chapbook and incidental poems previously published in magazines and by small presses, is a door makes use of the poem’s ability for ?suddenness” to subvert closure: the sudden question, the sudden turn, the sudden opening?writing that is generated from linguistic mindfulness, improvisation, compositional problem-solving, collaborative events, travel, investigation and documentary?in short, poetry as practice.
Part one, ?Isadora Blue,” is grounded in the author’s encounter with the smashed and broken doors along the hurricane-devastated waterfront of Telchac Puerto, a small village on the north coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. It resonates throughout the other three sections of the book, with its attention to hybridity and ?between-ness”?a poetic investigation of racialized otherness?and the composition of ?citizen” and ?foreigner” through history and language.

Part two of this series of poems, ?Ethnogy Journal,” written during a trip to Thailand and Laos in 1999, hinges around aspects of ?tourist” and ?native. ” Here the poems play in the interstices of spectacle, food and social sightseeing.

Much of this poetry is framed by Wah’s acute sense of the marginalized non-urban local ?place” and coloured by his attempt to articulate senses of otherness and resistance, or writing the ?public self,” particularly in the book’s third section, ?Discount Me In”?a series of sixteen poems from his discursive poetic essay ?Count Me In. ”

The fourth section, ?Hinges,” is tinted with portraits of the social subject mired in a diasporic mix, a metanarrative trope in Fred Wah’s work that began with Breathin’ My Name With a Sigh.

Characteristically playful and compositionally musical, this is poetry that watches both sides of the doorway: unsettled, unpredictable, closed and open. Sometimes the door swings and can be kicked. Sometimes it’s simply missing. Sometimes it’s a sliding door.

Fred Wah

Fred Wah was born in 1939 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, to parents of Swedish and Chinese origin. He studied Music and English at U.B.C. before shifting to Linguistics and Literature at SUNY Buffalo. From 1967-1989, Wah taught at Selkirk College and David Thompson University Centre in Nelson while living in South Slocan, raising a family and writing more than a dozen books of poetry. He taught English and Creative Writing in Calgary until his retirement in 2003. Wah was one of the founders of the groundbreaking TISH poetry magazine, which ran from 1961-1966. He has received major literary awards for his work, including the Governor General's award for Waiting for Saskatchewan. His So Far won Alberta's Stephanson Award, and is a door won the Dorothy Livesay prize for poetry. In 2011, Wah was appointed as Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate, the fifth poet to hold this office. Last year was he was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada for his groundbreaking work as a poetand for his contributions to the life of poetry in Canada. Currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Calgary, he divides his time between Vancouver and a seasonal home near Nelson.

Reviews

“Without a doubt, is a door is a dazzler, a thoughtful, playful and stunningly skillful four-part foray into the nature of ‘suddenness’ and its inherent ability ‘to subvert closure’ on the brink of unexpected entrances and exits. ”
Globe & Mail

“These four sequences are what we once called trips, not so much to Mexico and Thailand and the Koots, as out of syntax toward a world in which words are things indeed, or at least are treated as such. You may feel as if you’ve had a stroke and are trying mightily to read right. Predicates can appear as if out of the dark. This is where Wah has been leading us, conscious as all get out, innocent as a lynx. This is what happens to a language when someone finally gets it away from the people it was named after. ”
George Bowering

“Wah’s poems continually return us to … the realization of our shared, not individual, life. ”
Montreal Gazette

“These four sequences are what we once called trips, not so much to Mexico and Thailand and the Koots, as out of syntax toward a world in which words are things indeed, or at least are treated as such. You may feel as if you’ve had a stroke and are trying mightily to read right. Predicates can appear as if out of the dark. This is where Wah has been leading us, conscious as all get out, innocent as a lynx. This is what happens to a language when someone finally gets it away from the people it was named after. ”
George Bowering

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