Elizabeth Bachinksy — Curio

111 pages; 6×9 inches; perfectbound
ISBN 1 897388 40 3 | 9781 897388 40 2
With a new introduction by K. Silem Mohammad
$20 | BUY NOW

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Fragments at large

Reviewed by rob mclennan

“It’s not that often a Canadian poet gets a second edition of any title, let alone her first collection, bare months after the appearance of her third, but for Vancouver poet Elizabeth Bachinsky it happened, through the second edition of her Curio: grotesques & satires from the electronic age*, produced by Toronto’s BookThug. Far livelier than her subsequent, and more formally conservative titles, with Nightwood Editions, Curio wrestles a number of pieces, including her anagram of “The Waste Land” written out as “Leads the Wants,” twisting and turning a poem that seems to beg for response (John Newlove’s own “The Green Plain,” he often said, was a response to Eliot’s piece as well). Through anagram, pillage, plunder and other structural plays, Curio enacts a wonderful revenge on expectation, and writes overtly a subversion of form her two succeeding volumes have worked to do far more subtly (and sometimes, to far lesser effect). Still, the real difference between the first edition and this is the inclusion of an essay by K. Silem Mohammad on Bachinsky’s project, explaining how radical Eliot’s piece was when originally published, and comparing to this new work, writing that “Readers who are unfriendly to poetic innovation now more often than not have no such deep-seated moral convictions about syntactical decorum, but are merely suspicious of what appears to them a confidence game of empty mannerisms and pretentious affectations intended to be intellectually intimidating. In some cases they have good cause for these suspicions.” Focusing on her anagram of *The Waste Land*, Mohammad argues a case for both original and new versions of the piece, and is worth the price of admission alone, even for those who own the first edition of Bachinsky’s Curio.”

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How do you like your poetry?

Reviewed by Zoe Whittall for The Globe and Mail

“One only has to skim the press copy for Elizabeth Bachinsky’s re-released first volume, Curio: Grotesques & Satires from the Electronic Age , to note she can be more than one type of poet. She can roll with conventional poetic forms and the “retro avant garde” – whatever those terms actually mean when you get right down to it. With this volume, Bachinsky proves herself to be a versatile, skilled poet unafraid to shake things up.”

Read the full review here.

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The Fine Art of Collage or T.S. Eliot Hits the Mosh Pit: Curio — Grotesques and Satires from the Electronic Age

Reviewed by Jeanette Lynes for The Fieldstone Review

“Published under Jay MillAr’s very cool BookThug imprint, Elizabeth Bachinsky’s Curio is an energized, endlessly inventive, often brilliant collection – a memorable collage of shifting poetic stances and rhetorical tropes. Bachinsky has distanced herself considerably from what has been the typical debut collection of lyric-narrative, often confessional poems. The eight sections (plus one single-section, introductory prose poem entitled “On the Convention of Narrative in Literature”) of her book are all quite different in both form and mood; they range, for example, from the spare, minimalist sequence of “Undressed And So Many Places to Go,” to the faux-journals and epistolary discourse of “From the Secret Diaries of Antonin Artaud,” to the palindromes (structured as double sonnets that unzip themselves and reverse) of “Spy Cam: Surveillance Series,” to the Dadaist riffs of “The Pose Same Ran Am Sage.”

Read the full review here.

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An Interview with Elizabeth Bachinsky (May 2009)

Evgenia Todorova interviews Elizabeth Bachinsky for Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review

“Well I guess my favourite games in Curio are certainly the anagrams. For people who can’t remember, an anagram is a word or phrase that you rearrange all the letters in that word or phrase to read as another line. So, star becomes rat, or rats, rather, or tars or arts. So, for example, the first line of Milton’s “On His Blindness,” which is one of the poems in the book, begins “When I consider how my light is spent”—that’s Milton’s line—and my line becomes “Dim, nephritic, yet single, whoosh.” So, it’s kind of silly, but it’s fun and a little, what’s the word…”

Read the full interview here.

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Curio: Grotesques and Satires from the Electronic Age

Reviewed by John Herbert Cunningham for Prairie Fire

“Elizabeth Bachinsky is the author of three books of poetry, Curio (BookThug 2005), Home of Sudden Service (Nightwood Editions, 2006), nominated for the Governor General’s Award, and God of Missed Connections (Nightwood Editions, 2009). She lives in Vancouver, a good place for any poet of an experimental bent. /Curio is, well, a curious book. It is made up of a number of disparate sections. One of the first is titled “From the Secret Diaries of Antonin Artaud,” in which Bachinsky attempts to write in the voice of Artaud. Many of the entries blur the distinction between prose and poetry…”

Read the full review here.