“Newfoundlander” and “storyteller” have long been synonymous in the Canadianist lexicon, but the province’s poets have earned their dues. With several of its 11 featured poets having recently penned successful collections—Ken Babstock, Michael Crummey, Patrick Warner, Carmelita McGrath, Mary Dalton—The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry is less an exhaustive memorialization of the past 40 years, and more a guidebook to the most important voices writing Newfoundland out of itself.
Sure, there is a dash of the expected, but it is the act of reconciling this that results in a collection of such strength and depth—as in Tom Dawe’s “Top of the World,” or Richard Greene’s “Crossing the Straits”—summed up most poignantly in John Steffler’s “Towers and Monuments”: “the sea slides after us/erasing what we’ve done.” A versatile read, this collection illuminates and celebrates the Newfoundland that has always belonged to its poets.
The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry
edited by Mark Callanan and James Langer
$19.95, paperback, 216 pp.
Breakwater Books, April 2013