Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Pluriel provides a composite snapshot, taken from a few particular angles, of the variety of poems written in Canada over the past few decades. In shaping this anthology the editors were attracted to the diverse cultural and social responses evident in the work of poets writing in English and French, both across Canada, and in particular in Quebec and other French-speaking regions of the country. Each poem is offered in its original language and in translation.

A poem of mine called "The Lot" - written in 1994 in response to the "accidental" shooting death by a Montreal police officer of a black youth and the officer's subsequent acquittal - appears in this new anthology from the University of Ottawa Press. The anthology is interesting from the standpoint of an experiment in translation. To my mind, it gives the impression of cultural distance rather than proximity. The volume is split between poems originally written in English and then translated into French and vice versa. I enjoyed reading the French rendering of my poem, though I might have questioned certain word choices. The anthology is eclectic,the choices decidedly idiosyncratic and the quality all over the map. There are poems by Klein, Atwood, Cohen and Purdy, but many by lessers like myself which can be refreshing.

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