Saturday, April 12, 2014

THE HOTTEST SUMMER IN RECORDED HISTORY - Elizabeth Bachinsky (Nightwood Editions) - 2014 Pat Lowther Memorial Award Nominee -

For the month of April this blog will be looking at the nominees for the 2014 Pat Lowther Memorial Award, Raymond Souster Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award as recognized by the the League of Canadian Poets.

The Pat Lowther Memorial Award is given for a book of poetry by a Canadian woman published in the preceding year, and is in memory of the late Pat Lowther, whose career was cut short by her untimely death in 1975. The award carries a $1,000 prize. It is presented each year at the League’s Annual General Meeting in May or June, with the shortlist announced in April.

The Raymond Souster Award is given for a book of poetry by a League of Canadian Poets member (all levels, dues paid) published in the preceding year. The award honours Raymond Souster, an early founder of the League of Canadian Poets. The award carries a $1,000 prize. It is presented each year at the LCP Annual Poetry Festival and Conference in June, with the shortlist announced in April.

The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award is given in the memory of Gerald Lampert, an arts administrator who organized authors’ tours and took a particular interest in the work of new writers. The award recognizes the best first book of poetry published by a Canadian in the preceding year. The Award carries a prize of $1,000 and is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets. It is presented each year at the League’s Annual General Meeting in May or June, with the shortlist announced in April.


Today's book of poetry:
The Hottest Summer in Recorded History.  Elizabeth Bachinsky.  Nightwood Editions.  Gibson's, B.C..  2013.

Reading Elizabeth Bachinsky's rollicking frolic of a collection The Hottest Summer in Recorded History is a bit like having an exciting conversation with someone new,  someone you are hoping will become a friend.  Bachinsky has an old crone's wisdom and a hipster lens as she pistol whips any pretensions the reader might have.

Lions Gate Bridge
for George McWhirter

You can see her from the sea. You can see cars
inch north and south under the gift of lights
a beer man gave to Vancouver's sky at night.
Strung tighter than a junkie at either shore,
she's nightmarish. The idea you can't get across;
slight; anachronistic; from a distance,
thin as a hair crawling with pestilent traffic.
But in the evening, cool air curls in through the narrows
and the traffic calms,
and lovers sit in one another's arms
at Prospect Point and behold her. How we love
to look at what we keep and what we have.
When she comes down at last, the future comes.
With it, other lovers. Other charms.


This Nightwood Editions book was designed by Carleton Wilson and looks both very old and totally modern, ultimately a very attractive book.  The poems are equally attractive.  Some are riffs, some laments, some lists.  Bachinsky is not shackled by structure or formality, she embraces humour and eroticism with a welcome playfulness that never undermines the serious poet underneath.

Sleeping With Jane
for Thomas Ziorjen

Florence couldn't remember much because she had Alzheimer's
disease, so she moved into her daughter Jane's house - the house
her daughter shared with the son-in-law Florence had traditionally
disliked a great deal.  Now she didn't know him and that felt better.
She didn't know the children, either.  She thought the family bunny,
Spot, was a cat.  Florence said, "What are you going to call that cat?"
"It's a bunny," her grandson said.  "Bunny, That's a good name,"
Florence said.  "It looks just like a bunny."  The son-in-law, a stay-
at-home dad, looked after Florence during the day.  "Who is that
man?" she asked her daughter one night.  "I don't know him,
but he makes a lovely breakfast and I think he's sleeping with Jane."


This is Bachinsky's fifth book of poetry.  Earlier books have been nominated for both the Pat Lowther Award and the Governor General's Award for Poetry.  The Hottest Summer in Recorded History continues Bachinsky's excellent march.  Her poems are an entertaining pleasure, they are without pretence and they are provocative.

When You First Meet A Domesticated Dog

He is a frightening prospect, indeed.
There's the slavering mouth full of teeth,

and the hair that stands up like bristle.
It noses your crotch and takes a good snuffle

and—what's this?—it wants a little pet?
Everyone seems okay with that,

standing around eating chicken off the BBQ
like there isn't an animal among you.


One of Bachinsky's poems, The Mountain, appears in a chapbook edited by Jason Camlot for Synapse Press in Montreal called After The Mountain, The A.M. Klein Reboot Project.  I was tickled to be included in the same short collection when it appeared.  Now - it's just like bragging.  And I'm fine with that, pleased to be in such fine company.

Take a look for this book, no way you'd regret it.

Elizabeth Bachinsky reading from The Hottest Summer in Recorded History

Elizabeth Bachinsky is the author of five collections of poetry: Curio (2005), Home of Sudden Service (2006), God of Missed Connections (2009), I Don't Feel So Good (2012) and The Hottest Summer in Recorded History (2013). Her work has been nominated for awards including the Pat Lowther Award and the Governor General's Award for poetry. She was born in Regina, raised in Prince George and Maple Ridge, B.C., and now lives in Vancouver where she is an instructor of creative writing and the Editor of Event Magazine.

"Bachinsky's work, with its myriad of influences ranging from Lisa Robertson, is able to rise above the boring drone of the avant-garde-versus-traditional debates.  Her work can straddle both sides: formal and experimental, personal and mathematical, with a keen ear for the erotically ridiculous."
     Zoe Whittall, Globe and Mail

"Bachinsky has won deserved admiration for her work, full of guts and verve, spunk and nerve...
straight-shooting, straight-talking [with] that same rough beauty, sinuous toughness, of make-do carpentry that works."
     George Elliott Clarke, Halifax Chronicle/Herald

"...enviably good."
     Mark Callanan, Quill & Quire

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