Visual Inspection

Matt Raider. Nightwood, $18.95 (150p) ISBN 978-0-88971-356-7
The fifth book from Canadian poet Raider (A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle over the River Arno) originates from an “eyes closed walking tour” that he took through a part of downtown Kelowna, British Columbia, near where he lives. The result is a series of associative meditations about nonvisual knowing, “To follow is to be guided... Walking, we map a space in time. What exists in that space.” He posits that poetry can be as physical as it is visual, reading it, as much an act of the body as of the mind. The writer’s voice is intelligent and engaging, offering many interesting observations on a range of topics encompassing Wallace Stevens and Robert Hass as well as Richard Florida’s “creative cities” theory (copious footnotes are included). But what drives the narrative is the gradual unfolding of Raider’s disability—an immune disorder that results in debilitating pain—and how friends and family create and inform his reality. Attempts to see the unseen (including First Nations people, whose lives and languages are still evident, though often ignored) blend with the attempt to understand oneself, given the knowledge that “touch is never innocent.” This hybrid text, part lyric essay, part poem, offers a vision that poets will be drawn to. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 08/14/2019
Release date: 04/01/2019
Genre: Poetry
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