We asked MFA alumni publishing books this spring what they’re reading, and what they'd recommend. Below, Shane Neilson shares two titles he's currently thinking through:
(1) Unfinished Dreams: Contemporary Poetry of Acadie. Trans. Fred Cogswell and Jo-Anne Elder. Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 1990.
Too many English-language poets from my home province don’t know the history of their Francophone counterparts, a knowledge gap which predicts the greater ignorance of the Rest of Canada. This book serves as a ground-zero for introductions between poets of the Acadian Renaissance and an interested intercultural readership. Even more interesting is the collaboration between Fred Cogswell and Jo-Anne Elder, the result of which is quite different than the output of Elder on her own (Elder continued to translate Francophone poets into English and is now recognized as a leading Canadian literary translator.)
(2) Legris, Sylvia. The Hideous Hidden. New York: New Directions, 2016.
Sylvia’s one of Canada’s best, and she needs no contextualization. So I’ll just jump in: I don’t have many “poetry colleagues” in the medical sense, poets who really dig down into medical discourse as it is deployed in earlier centuries. Sylvia’s so, so good at the music of this poetry excavation project, but also at making the language compelling through personal, biographical investment. This book is strange, beautiful, and looks “ruddy” in the way a newborn looks ruddy — new and raw.
Shane's new poetry collection, Dysphoria, will be released on March 31 by Porcupine's Quill. He will be featured at the MFA's Speakeasy Series on March 30, as well as Pivot Readings on April 19 [The Steady, 8 pm, w. Kevin Connolly, Erin Robinsong, and Rebecca Rosenblum]. Dysphoria's official launch event, with special guest Molly Peacock, happens May 1, as part of Readings at the Common [Bell Jar Cafe, 8pm].