By Dennis Cooley, Nicole Markotic
Dennis Cooley, one in all Canada’s so much renowned poets, says writing turns into political in the event you play with definite different types of voices. His poetry has been inspired and encouraged via the prairies and different Canadian poets, yet he insists on aggravating the formal poetic inheritance he esteems. His engagement with various conversing voices asks that readers query authority and problem institutional privilege. In By notice of Mouth, a suite from throughout his profession, readers will realize how Cooley returns to the prairie vernacular and speaks to Canadian identification. Poetry, says Cooley, is set our time and our position.
Nicole Markotić’s introductory essay discusses how Dennis Cooley performs with poetic reference, conjures up with syntactical surprises, parodies modern writing, and indulges in wild, celebratory puns. This booklet roams round Dennis Cooley’s poetical international and invitations the reader to play alongside.
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Extra info for By Word of Mouth: The Poetry of Dennis Cooley (Laurier Poetry)
All the people, all the ones had those growths removed, know what they do after? They go and pickle them. That’s right, they put them up in jars and set them in their sitting room where everyone can see them. Callin by Karl Dyck’s and his missus the other day, day it rained, week ago Tuesday must a bin, to pick up some eggs and there she was—a big white blob in this sealer, right there plop on top of the radio. Karl was pretty pleased about it, took down the jar and give it to me so’s I could get a good look at it ﬂoatin round like a pig’s foot in vinegar.
Before that we see a dancer in the park turning & turning & turning inside the gazebo the cool air light rain falling. 32 / By Word of Mouth winnipeg in winter iron lungs in the basement blood lifting every room breathing through teeth lines rooms like wallpaper climbs the stairs cold in its mouth tumbles down under the cold sky winter a giant & sleeping body ﬁtted with stars we move slowly all winter in moonlight sour as cider though we are patient, wait the season sounds it makes, alive thoughts move in & out pass through skin & bones relieved to be out to be in the skin we curtain our lives with moves inside our lives / short of air the way we inhale the way we inhale one another the way we are made \ whole almost mad we are that close The Poetry of Dennis Cooley / 33 a series of shocking pre-positions & after words to place be fore or in front of: about above after ahead around at a way back before be low from to beneath in to ward beside in side through betwixt off through out between on under by out until down over up during past with for since within behind had we but word enuff: to before place or in of front & time time & time again this my lady would be 34 / By Word of Mouth mother tongue we learn to speak yearn to talk at our mother’s breast we learn to say something you coax us into take our ﬁrst shaky steps into talk walk on air again & again try to speak our mother tongue tied so to speak inside this room tied to you we try & nurse you back to breath can hardly talk hardly say a thing dare not breathe a word The Poetry of Dennis Cooley / 35 this on remembrance weekend: there is a blood clot in the tunnel it ﬂutters hovers there /red scarf blood gusts & breezes they hope to melt with poison they now call perfume the red silk rustling inside you whispers of romance that would kill it could be a cloud on a fence it could be net stockings fear if it breaks it will go straight to your heart slip through silk stocking in wind innocent as a nightcap catching the direction stop all ﬂight that it will blow up against the lung when it hits the way to breath will take your breath away only we know it doesn’t know the way to your heart has no way of knowing you are a woman of few vanities it has no way of reaching any corner of your longing never to wear the red silk where it ﬂutters a dying bird just below your throat 36 / By Word of Mouth bodies are tubers put into darkness darkness blots up time you cannot peel off like tape darkness could be a worker taking up old carpets pop POP pop pop ﬂesh unsnapped from bones voices dissolve in soil wash away in rain words as if they never were spoken before as they never will again not though we call till we can speak no more all we know is time for a time hangs the sweet ﬂesh hums bright ﬁsh feeding at coral and then millions & millions of voices run away go back to the sea back to the waters back into sun a moment exhaled on breath all the voices ﬂesh & bone have made nothing we can say can rinse the darkness off talk ﬂesh back into time the yard calling rooms crying out children talking taking their time the few moments we have to swing on our bones The Poetry of Dennis Cooley / 37 jack’s dictionary of cunning linguists novitiate: a johnny come lately rabid: foaming at the mouth aging: can’t afford to lose face / agen despondent: is sunk in depression effete: a poet taster, nosegay some would have it swinging: lets down his hair puritanical: her lips are sealed conscientious: gives ’m a fair shake tonsorial: gets in the hair impetuous: dives in head-ﬁrst indifferent: gives the cold shoulder radical: in a hot bed of activity reckless: headed for a crackup hard-up: has trouble making ends meet bilingual: is beside herself, he speaks with a forked tongue turbulent: is often feeling ﬂoosie disapproving: favours a crackdown outstanding: is head and shoulders above myopic: can’t see beyond his nose meek: turns the other cheek loyal: sticks it out through thick & thin bankrupt: goes belly up clumsy: hits it right on the nose marginal: involved in split decisions timid: won’t ﬁnd fault with anyone hermaphroditic: really comes into herhishisher own inquisitive: an eager beaver thorough: doesn’t want to leave anything out lesbian: speaks in the mother tongue sentimental: lives in nether nether land optimistic: believes s/he is making head way sadistic: always beats it moralistic: makes snap judgements 38 / By Word of Mouth reformed: gets a weight off herhis shoulders journalistic: gives a blow by blow account inexperienced: fuzzy faced parsimonious: speaks with pursed lips the tightwad truculent: holds herhis own proletarian / fallen / cursed: lives by the sweat of his brow divine: she brings down the world on his head experienced: fuzzy faced fed up: will tell him/her where to get off tempted: within an inch of his wife angry: cuts off his nose to spite his face lucky: experiences a windfall promiscuous: has a loose tongue likes a loose tongue too malcontented: airs grievances impatient: plays hard and fast hypocritical: is two-faced epicurean: develops a taste for it enterprising: ’d snap you up in a minute, a split second inventive: eager to ﬁnd a new wrinkle, vents her views witty: a real wag with women speculative: gets caught in boom & bust aboriginal: is leary of pale faces investigative: an undercover agent fears someone will blow her cover sadomasochistic: deals is dealt a heavy blow catches you in one hell of a tongue-twister acrobatic: goes into a nose dive a tail spin English: keeps a stiff upper lip equivocal: faces a split decision aggressive: knows you can never get off easy duplicitous: between a lick and a promise Freudian: trusts in a slip of the tongue harried: sometimes s/he’s all in competitive: busy nosing out rivals snotty: looks down his nose at The Poetry of Dennis Cooley / 39 narcissistic: the spitting image lucky: wins by a nose despondent: down in the mouth correspondent: keeps in touch premature: ﬁnds things are touch and go impatient: always beats it traditional: is above that sort of thing reserved: makes no bones about it will tell him/her where to get off athletic: calling audibles in the huddle (jocular asides) sure sure I have a glib & ﬂuid tongue so do you you too for my part I am voluble [fr.
Don know what he was thinkin but did he get a kick out of it, but to tell the truth it give me the willies. Got no stomach for them things but I guess it don bother the Dycks one little bit, they just passed it round like was one of those big French parsnips if you ever seen one of them, seemed to think it was somethin special we were all sposed to drop our drawers at or somethin. Funny thing ’s even the little girl, what’s her name, the little one always giggles, yeah—Caroline, Caroline she watched it like she was a cat ﬁshin, know how they just sit there and stare and stare.