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The Danforth Review's Poetry Editors

Geoffrey Cook

Geoffrey Cook has published poetry and essays in many Canadian journals, including Descant, Fiddlehead, Pottersfield Portfolio, and The Canadian Journal of Comparative Literature. He teaches English at John Abbott College outside Montreal, where he lives. 

What do you like and dislike about contemporary Canadian poetry? (Name names.) 

I like Richard Sanger, Ken Babstock and Stephanie Bolster - which is as contemporary as I get. I admire the intelligence, energy, sensitivity and craftsmanship of these poets. Before them - but still 'contemporary' - I like Bringhurst, MacPherson and Nowlan (as well as the songs of Leonard Cohen). I dislike Susan Musgrave and Al Purdy; I particularly dislike their imitators. What is admirable about "Canadian" poetry is its range and diversity, however problematic that makes Canadian politics, cultural policies or academic dissertations on a Canadian sensibility. A revealing confession: I don't like the mania of 'poetry slams' or 'spoken-word poetry', though I admit it raises the profile of the art. And I don't think that the future belongs to the suburbs. 

Describe the types of poems you'd like to see in TDR. 

Generalities are the best guide, otherwise one gets prescriptive, and I have no intention of becoming partisan or promulgating a manifesto. So I would like to see poetry that is free of cliche - intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and technically. In particular I would like to see conscientious craftsmanship; I don't mean only traditional forms, but I certainly mean purposeful use of line breaks based on rhythm instead of, at best, visual puns. It is self-conscious craftsmanship which reveals the soul's uniqueness, not vice versa. 

Name a favorite poet, and say why. 

I think Canadian artists are well past the anxiety of assuming the world stage, so I can say my 'favourite poet' is not Canadian or singular: Seamus Heaney because of his lyricism and rural imagery; Derek Walcott because of his narrative and epic impulse and his sea imagery; and Joseph Brodsky because of his irony, intelligence and formal sophistication. 



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The Danforth Review is produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. All content is copyright of its creator and cannot be copied, printed, or downloaded without the consent of its creator. The Danforth Review is edited by Michael Bryson. Poetry Editor is Geoff Cook. Reviews Editors are Anthony Metivier (fiction) and Erin Gouthro (poetry). TDR alumni officio: K.I. Press and Shane Neilson. All views expressed are those of the writer only. International submissions are encouraged. The Danforth Review is archived in the National Library of Canada. ISSN 1494-6114. 

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We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Nous remercions de son soutien le Conseil des Arts du Canada.