A Ragged Pen: Essays on Poetry and Memory.


112 pages
ISBN 978-1-55447-030-7
DDC C811'.009'353





Reviewed by Bert Almon

Bert Almon is a professor of English at the University of Alberta and
author of Calling Texas.


This collection of meditations on memory grew out of a panel at the Associated Writings Programs Convention in 2005. The approaches are varied. Each writer contributes an essay and, except for Jan Zwicky, a selection of his or her own work. Patrick Friesen’s vivid essay considers an early childhood memory and questions how far back we can remember. Aislinn Hunter’s article is a rather modish account of the unreliability of memory built around an imaginary picnic with Jorge Luis Borges: so often, postmodernism means refusing (or failing) to come to conclusions. Anne Simpson probes into the myth of Orphus and Eurydice to illuminate lyric poetry and memory; her essay is afflicted with name-dropping (mostly of literary theorists) but is still very insightful. Jan Zwicky places a series of striking aphorisms on memory and lyric between profound poems by Pablo Neruda and Pär Lagerkvist. Robert Finley’s essay, a discussion on his forthcoming prose meditations on archival photos, is the least germane to the topic. Although the individual pieces are brief, the high reputations of Simpson, Zwicky, and Friesen make this an indispensable book. It is printed to the usual standards of Gaspereau Press. That is, the book is an object of great beauty.


Finley, Robert, et al., “A Ragged Pen: Essays on Poetry and Memory.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/26638.