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Monthly Archives: October 2011

For starters, as I read about her bio, I found that the Toronto based Karen Solie was born in 1966 in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. Over her short years, Karen has worked in several professions such as a farm hand, an espresso jerk (not as funny as it sounds), a groundskeeper, a newspaper photographer/writer, research and English teacher. Just by reading this list, I was already quite impressed by Mrs. Solie. As I read on, I discovered that she had a large number of her poems published in Canadian journals including The Fiddlehand, The Malahat Review, Event, Indiana Review, ARC, and Other Voices. Personally, I have NEVER even heard about any of these journals, but that probably has to do with the fact that I’m not much into Canadian poetry. But when I think about it, being published anywhere is a big step to me. Putting your name out there and making something of yourself is always good.

Through reading about her in a National Post article, I found that Karen Solie’s work is often described as the “man-made world” versus the natural world. She seems to over analyse every situation and connect it with something totally unthinkable and irrelevant. For example she referenced a construction site to “… the nose-down backhoe resembles someone fallen asleep in a library’. I thought that was pretty crazy. I think these references are what make her poetry so gripping. Maybe it’s because she just makes you think more than you should about simple things until they are so complex, not even she can understand them. Her poems have also been known to have a distinct, strong, personal voice in her poems.

She published the Short Haul Engine in 2oo1, which won the 2002 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, Modern and Normal in 2005, which was shortlisted for the 2006 Trillium Book Award, and Pigeon in 2009, which was the winner of the 2010 Canadian Griffen Poetry Prize, Pat Lowther Award and Trillium Book Award for Poetry.


When I hear the word Poetry, I think of a dark smoke filled room with people sitting at tables, lit up with candles and at the front of the room, there’s someone reading a poem filled with rhymes and rhythms into a microphone. The room is completely quiet except for the poet. When he/she finishes, instead of clapping, everyone begins to snap their fingers in praise. But, those are just my first thoughts. When I think deeply into poetry, I think of revelations, art, expression, and empowerment.  To me, it’s an expression of your art form, that makes you feel empowered. To a dancer, dancing can be their form of poetry, depending on how they interpret it. If you’re a writer, and you read something or write something that makes you feel something deep down inside, that can be your poetry. When something “snaps you into a different state of mind”, or “rings your bell”, I think that’s when something is really poetry. One mans poem, may be on man gibberish, and one mans gibberish, may in fact be one of the most beautiful experiences for another man.

Something I found interesting from the discussion in class was the separation of poetry from music (when you’re considering poetry as words). Poetry and music can both rhyme, repeat them selves, and have verses and stanza’s, can’t they? So I’m just wondering where you draw the line, in terms of separating them. Maybe to a producer, music is poetry. Maybe to a poet, poetry is music. Maybe it’s just your interpretation of what you hear and feel, rather than what you’re taught to hear and feel. I also found it interesting the way people jumped to such quick conclusions about whether the things we listened to were poetry, as I was still on the fence and couldn’t actually give a legitimate answer. Maybe I missed something.

All in all, I think how you define poetry is based on your interpretation of what you see and what you hear. I think it has a lot to do with your understanding for an art-form. Take sound poetry for example, some people might think it’s so whack and don’t understand why people would spend time to do this, but for others it seems like such a passion. I think you have to appreciate what you’re experiencing to truly grasp the true meaning.

Listening to “Martin Luther King with his Language removed” kind of hurt to listen to. It was like an old CD -ROM that had been scratch, dropped and befouled  many times. Yet, I couldn’t help wanting to hear more, and hear what Mr. King was trying to say. I could tell it was so powerful and full of meaning because there were so many people cheering and clapping. I felt like I wanted to be there, listening to what he was saying so I could understand why these people were cheering.

After a while, my mind tried to focus on the echo’s of his voice, but I still couldn’t understand. I think this audio recording was to show that sound can still have such a meaning, even though you might not know what its primary intentions are. Did it even have an intention?

After watching the video “about silence” where John Cage expresses his love of sound, my eyes have been opened to new possibilities of things. The idea of not recognizing a sound as nothing more than a sound is very interesting. He says he doesn’t want to hear a thud on the ground as a bucket dropping, but merely just a thud.  The mind does seem to put a label on every different sound we hear from things we’ve heard or experienced in our lives. What if we could hear a sound as just a sound? Would the mind still process things in the same way?

The way he analyzes sound makes me imagine a doctor taking apart something very slowly and very carefully. Trying not to miss a single thing, doing it near to perfection. Very interesting, very interesting indeed.