To find the last words for the Canadian-American exchange we've been having this week, I quote Stephanie Bolster, the intrepid first editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008.
First: good writing. Awkward or rote syntax; familiar expressions, images, and locutions; or random lineation, ruled a poem out. A meaningfully rebellious and distinctive syntax or a deliberately dissonant music often ruled it in.
Second: depth and challenge, be that emotional or intellectual. If additional readings failed to yield new insights and appreciations, but, rather, dulled the flash I’d sensed the first time around, the poem lost its post-it note.
Finally, and inseparably from the first two criteria: an interesting, even strange sensibility or imagination. . . . I sought poems that excited and surprised me, that felt (boldly or quietly) necessary, often urgent. I sought poems serious and poems frivolous (though seriously frivolous). . . . I was without doubt a tougher critic than if I’d been reading fewer poems, but asking myself whether I could confidently put my name behind a particular choice forced me to be discerning.
In the end, the best is what you feel you can put your own name to -- that's what Stephanie Bolster did, and I am grateful.
It's been a joy to write this blog, to talk to all of you--and, importantly for me, to listen. Many thanks to Stacey Harwood who added the photos to these posts, especially David Hockney's swimming pool and Mrs. Delany. Now I'm going to take a nice dive back into the 18th century.