Poets Talk, by Pauline Butling and Susan Rudy

This is a fantastic book! I bought it this weekend and immediately read the Erin Moure, Daphne Marlatt, Fred Wah, and Robert Kroetsch straight through… The conversation is intimate and informative, not condescending, but challenging and critical in a feminist and humanist sense. The electrical current of the questions should be a sharp reminder to readers that critical engagement can be a positive, furthering impulse rather than a shutting down, attacking, or simply celebratory one.
Rudy and Butling ask, as Marlatt points out, “big questions”. They’ve both been thinking, reading and teaching the work for a long time, and obviously have been in conversation themselves, as well as with the individual poets. This makes for extremely intelligent interviews–they are so concise they’ll make wonderful teaching tools. As well they’ve included a fairly extensive bio for each poet. There really is a luxurious feeling to this book. I hope they’re planning more. The University of Alberta press deserves big applause for this volume. My only quibble so far is that the interviews themselves are too short. I have yet to read the Derksen, Anneharte, and finish the Brand, but already I can tall you it’s fabulous. I’ll add excerpts a little later.

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