All Fresh Today

Michael Hofmann

  • BuyThe Living Option: Selected Poems by Karen Solie
    Bloodaxe, 160 pp, £9.95, October 2013, ISBN 978 1 85224 994 6

Introducing Karen Solie, I would adapt what Joseph Brodsky said some thirty years ago of the great Les Murray: ‘It would be as myopic to regard Mr Murray as an Australian poet as to call Yeats an Irishman. He is, quite simply, the one by whom the language lives.’ Solie is Canadian (born in 1966, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, of Norwegian immigrant stock), the author of three previous books of poems, Short Haul Engine (2001), Modern and Normal (2005) and Pigeon (2009), and now this ‘new and selected’, and, yes, she is the one by whom the language lives. I wonder, a little bitterly, what the point of English as a soi-disant world language is, if our smug maps have only the UK and the US on them, and everywhere else is apocrypha or appendix, the province of specialists or pity. Enormous credit goes to Bloodaxe for commissioning this exhilarating volume, Solie’s first book publication outside Canada.

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