Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Entry 4: Sachiko Murakami and Michael Eden Reynolds

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Entry 4: Sachiko Murakami and Michael Eden Reynolds

Michael Eden Reynolds

Books: Slant Room (Porcupine's Quill 2009)

Cred: Reynolds has won several high profile awards such as the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize, and the John Haines Award for Poetry. He was a finalist for the CBC Literary Awards (2005) and the Bronwen Wallace award (2006). His work was anthologized in the Best of Canadian Poetry (2008).

Relevance: A cursory glance at Reynolds' debut Slant Room reveals a traditional Ars Poetica. And this would be no knock against Reynolds, though this is surely not what makes him unique. Firstly, it is worth noting that Reynolds is good -- no, Reynolds is great. It's not difficult to see it, but it's surprising, once you hunker down and absorb the cadences of his line, just how gifted Reynolds is. He writes "The rock-toothed mouth is full of ash; handfuls sift to bits of bone." Unassuming and not show-offy, Slant Room is written entirely with this rare attention to image and sound. The second point about Reynolds, though, is that he is adventurous. Tucked into SR are poems about Stephen Harper, the science of time, microchips, everyday household appliances (an espresso machine, to boot), and the minutia of everyday life (grocery lists). Reynolds writes in the muscular lyricism that Canada has done well by, but he also highlights ways in which it can swerve to new invigorating places.

Is currently working on: Hopefully new poems.

Sample: Check it out: a poem about Steven Harper...

Reynolds does 12 or 20 questions:

Sachiko Murakami

Books: The Invisibility Exhibit (Talonbooks 2009)

Cred: Murakami's GG nomination in 2008 created substantial buzz, though Murakami has been well known both in Vancouver (where she cut her teeth at the Kootenany School of Writing) and in Canada for a while, publishing widely in journals and actively participating and organizing literary events. She now hosts Pivot, Toronto's premier reading series. IE was also nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award.

Relevance: Murakami’s TIE is anathema to the nagging stereotypes of poetry: that it is too insular, precious, and bucolic; that it is an anacronistic bygone in an era of HBO and social media. Murakami's poems are designed as engines for provocation -- of family, media, law enforement, suburbia, and gender. Revolving around the disappearance of several women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, the book re-imagines the absences and ambiguities left by a poem’s brevity as ground for shoring up the typically passed-over, unsettling undercurrent of everyday urban life. This is the kind of work that poetry can do and do well. Kafka's oft-quoted line is worth mentioning: "A book must be the ax to break the frozen sea inside us." If there were more like Murakami's, I'd bet that poetry would have a firmer place in the public imagination.

Is currently working on: Releasing Rebuild (2011 Talonbooks).


I'll be posting an interview with Murakami on Monday or Tuesday where she'll discuss Rebuild, among other things .

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Jeff Latosik

Jeff Latosik’s first book, Tiny, Frantic, Stronger (Insomniac Press), was published in Spring 2010.

Go to Jeff Latosik’s Author Page