How wonderful to read such an insightful review of this poet and his work…so often I think of Heighton as one of Canada’s truly unsung poetic heroes and would really like to see that changed…Owen’s review leads me to think there are more readers than just me that might feel something along these lines.
Books of Canadian poetry are often thematically structured or, if miscellanies, tend to adhere to fairly narrow ranges of subject matter: domesticity & family, work, personal tales of love & grieving. There seems to be a fear of political and historical material, especially when combined with more intimate poems within a single volume; it’s as if not only are poets afraid of sinking into the polemical but that they worry about simplifying and streamlining content in order to make their texts more accessible to the reader, and perhaps more marketable, at least in theory, for the publisher.
Steven Heighton doesn’t appear to concern himself with either source of anxiety and Canadian poetry is better for his form of lyrical courage. The writer of substance educates their reader, draws them into a fascination with subject matter they may never have previously considered compelling and does so with and through language…
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