Drakkar Noir

The Walrus - - BOOKS - By Jer­amy Dodd s

jer­amy dodds’s bril­liantly bent sec­ond book of po­etry can be used to teach any num­ber of lessons about the craft. When not to go too long. How smart line breaks heighten a reader’s cu­rios­ity. Why the per­fect word is of­ten the most un­ex­pected one. But per­haps the top take­away is that, if you want to say some­thing mem­o­rable, you should lead with the mu­sic. Dodds has one of the most pre­pos­ter­ous ears in Cana­dian po­etry. He hears odd things in the way we talk to one other and builds his po­ems ac­cord­ingly, join­ing up bits of col­lo­qui­al­ized de­tri­tus, the bobs and tags of ev­ery­day chat­ter. Re­pur­posed clichés (“the heart wants what wants not the heart”) and down­side-up ob­ser­va­tions (“The change / in my pocket is dy­ing to be a cheap / tam­bourine”) are held to­gether by in­ge­nious puns, gearshift­ing as­so­nance, and in­ter­nal rhymes. The re­sult — lin­guis­ti­cally rich, shaggy-dog sto­ry­telling — is giddy-mak­ing. At a time when word­play, metaphor, and sound have be­come mi­nor con­cerns for po­ets — the art is now ex­pected to quar­ter­back big ideas to earn its keep — po­ems have be­come just too damn se­ri­ous. Drakkar Noir re­minds us that po­etry can be a guilty plea­sure.

— Carmine Starnino

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