Avatar

Poet Sharon Harris is plugged into the past as well as the future. That’s what the best poetry does: it feels new, yet reminds one of their favourites from the past. Avatar is a fine collection of writing from one of Canada’s rising poetic voices. The poetry is at turn playful and avant-garde and the juxtaposition of serious and silly is always welcome in poetry! Laughing aloud while reading poetry is always a good sign, unless one is laughing at the utter awfulness, which does happen occasionally, but thankfully not with Avatar. Avatar supplies many delights, but my favourite section is “Fun W/ ‘Pataphysics”, which offers advice to poets and thoughts on poetry itself. Excerpts from this section appeared in last year’s Shift & Switch and I am pleased to see more of this entertaining work. It answers, in a very Canadian way, many profound questions that readers and writers have asked for centuries. An example: “Where Do Poems Come From?” “Moisten your finger and hold it straight up in the air. You will / notice that one side of the finger is cold. This is the/ direction from which the poem is coming.” Of course! It is so obvious! Harris offers valuable advice “For Reviewers”, which deals with an issue that every reviewer has to deal with: “There is a very simple method for distinguishing a good poem/ from a bad one without hurting anyone’s feelings. Rotate the/ poem in question on a plate, and the true masterpiece will spin/ in the mind for eons.” Truly useful advice and I put it to use with reviews for this very issue. The poems in Avatar did very well under the spin-test and I have little doubt that this book marks the beginning of a fine career of letters for Sharon Harris. (Vincent Ponka)

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