cover image The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2016

The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2016

Edited by Helen Humphreys. Tightrope (IPG, dist.), $21.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-988040-10-3

Poet and author Humphreys guest edits the ninth installment of this anthology series, the challenging aim of which is to choose what each editor sees as the 50 best poems published in Canadian print or online journals in the previous year. This collection is full of eloquent lyric poets who explore timeless themes, including love, home, friendship, landscape, family, and grief. Although experimental poets are notably absent, it is an otherwise diverse collection that permits readers to discover fresh voices such as Cassidy McFadzean and Sneha Madhavan-Reese, who mingle with more familiar ones such as Lee Maracle, Karen Solie, Tim Bowling, and John Steffler. The best poems, such as "Rosa Parks" by Madhavan-Reese, are perfect vignettes, poignant yet grounded in grim reality, replete with hope. Bowling's "Tetherball" is taut with childhood drama and nostalgia as he describes the schoolyard sports ball as an "old confessor, grounded bolt, imploded gourd." Randy Lundy's "An Ecology of Being and Non-Being," an elegy for landscape, home, and lost relatives, inventively describes memory as "that old ache in the knee." Humphreys' selections are a balanced mix of yearning and optimism, and she skillfully brings the solo works together in a collection as complex and satisfying as a symphony. (Oct.)