Good to see the reception given Lisa Robertson's "Debbie: An Epic".
Her earlier curtsy/cheeky gesture towards Virgil was "XEclogue", from
Tsunami Editions, Vancouver in 1993. Some of you may have missed it or
overlooked it (big year at the KSW was '93 - Catriona Strang's "Low
Fancy", Deanna Ferguson's "The Relative Minor" & Jeff Derkson's "Dwell"
to cite 3 others): a fine book in its own right & necessary in
discussion of contemporary pastoral. I'll quote from beginning, middle
& end & allow LR to speak for her sharp & witty selves.
from "How Pastoral: A Prologue"
"I needed a genre for the times that I go phantom. I needed a genre to
rampage Liberty, haunt the foul freedom of silence. I needed to pry
Liberty loose from an impacted marriage with the soil. I needed a genre
to gloss my ancestress' complicity with a socially expedient code; to
invade my own illusions of historical innocence. The proud trees, the
proud rocks, the proud sky, the proud fields, the proud poor have been
held before my glazed face for centuries. I believed they were
reflections. The trees leaned masochistically into my absence of
satisfaction. The horizon pulled me close. It was trying to fulfil a
space I thought of as my body. Through the bosco a fleecy blackness
revealed the nation as its vapid twin. Yet nostalgia can locate those
structured faults our embraces also seek. A surface parts. The nasty
hours brim with the refinements of felicity. It's obvious now: Liberty
has been dressed in the guise of an ambivalent expenditure."
from "Eclogue Nine: History" (& hoping the spacings survive computer
a wrinkled blind eye
from "Eclogue Ten: Utopia"
"How then may we speak of futures? I would prefer to lean and whisper
in the throaty privacy of roses but distance brings a discipline both
anticipatory and fettering. Our anxieties have dissipated into all the
varieties of edge a ruffling hand describes. A vocabulary is no longer
adequate to the precisions of our desires. We're on the cusp of an
umbelliferous and sweet coin. A timorous wordling flushes and buckles
into secrecy. Greeness and violence wipe our lips. Fingers fall into
the buxom air, the flickering and rhyming flesh. Skin is a rhythm
cupped. Skin hinges the light. The buxom air unbraids us. We regret
only our costly addiction to the beautiful."
AND, one tour-de-force paragraph later...
"A bird's breath is in my throat."
I think it's still in print.