Crossing Lines: Poets Who Came to Canada in the Vietnam War Era.
Douglas Barbour is a professor of English at the University of Alberta.
He is the author of Lyric/anti-lyric : Essays on Contemporary Poetry,
Breath Takes, and Fragmenting Body Etc.
Subtitled “Poets Who Came to Canada in the Vietnam War Era,” Crossing Lines brings together 76 very varied poets, and still leaves out some whom it couldn’t corral. Editors Allan Briesmaster and Steven Michael Berzensky provide an intriguing preface in which they offer a number of explanations of what this gathering of “a migration of poets” does, but the book as a whole is perhaps too uneven and bumptious to be contained by any of them, except their pride in finding such an “eclectic” and “multifarious” crew.
Certainly, as they point out, the variety of poets, as well as the number of them whom few will recognize, says something in itself about just how large and unique this migration from the United States to Canada was. And they are right to point out that many of these writers have added something to the mix that is Canadian literature. Still, for some readers there will be quite a bit of filler here, and it’s mostly the names one recognizes who provide the most interesting poetry. A lot of the poems allude in one way or another to either the Vietnam War itself or to the time of making that big decision to come to another country. Many of these feel a bit too obvious and journalistic, but some are deeply moving, and there are many other kinds of poetry here as well.
It would fill this review to name all the poets of note, from Almon and Amabile through Blodgett and Lemm to Reibetanz and Wheeler, but even these few names suggest the breadth of poetics to be found in Crossing Lines. As the editors suggest, a reader may find any number of poets to check out further, and that may be the most we can ask of any anthology.