As I’ve been trying to write about the work of the Canadian writers, Dennis Cooley and Nicole Marcotić, for days now, all I can come up with is what I love about their work. Their play and seriousness and attention to place in various ways impresses me, makes me glad, hopeful. So, readers, I’ve decided that instead of trying to articulate this in any kind of astute literary critical way, I would simply give you my writerly love list and hope you might fall in love with or at least, appreciate them along with me.
I love that everyone who knows Dennis Cooley knows he never met a pun he didn’t love. I love Nicole Marcotic’s new book, Bent at the Spine, for the poems that are in the voices or styles of other Canadian poets. I love the sophistication, admiration and humor in that. I love that Cooley’s books range widely in persona—from Dracula to “Bloody Jack” Krafchenko, the Canadian outlaw. I love that in the introduction of By Word of Mouth: The Poetry of Dennis Cooley, Marcotic’ quotes Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (“Cuz it’s always gotta be blood”). I love how often Cooley mentions “the dirty thirties.” I love the way these two Canadian writers tease and think on the page in their shared essay, “Prairie Interrobang.” I love that I had to look up the word, “interrobang.” I love the stories (true or not) of when Cooley was writing, Bloody Jack, that his writer-pals, Robert Kroetsch and David Arnason, would sneak into his office and steal parts of the manuscript. I love that Cooley would simply write more in. I love the questioning of place and literary establishment that Marcotic’ and Cooley do and how that is essentially political. I love how Marcotic says it: innovation means … Stuttering, stumbling, sprinkling a plethora of line indents and breaks, tripping over confining institutions, ruled corridors, imprisoned language, barred windows, falling out and falling away, fracturing the old, landing prairie-flat…, hesitating, hobbling through the ruptures, limping towards a new rhythm(BWoM ix). I love that beyond the ideas, the Canadian world is alive in their work: “the roaddust where we eat/ sardine & onion sandwiches/ the jig of day” and “The Chinook stretches and reaches and/ pulls my exhalation across the prairies” I love my memories of meeting other Canadian writers in Cooley’s kitchen years ago (Kroetsch, Van Herk, Sproxton, et al). I love the possibility of knowing Marcotic’ in our literary futures to come. I love the jocular scolding and community that I hear among and between these two writers. I love how it inspires. I love thinking that this love list/love letter could go on for pages…. and hope that you, dear readers, will share in the love of their work.
Photo By: Alex Indigo