Three Favourite Things from 2014

Kerry-Lee Powell’s Inheritance

Yesterday the short list for the poetry part of the East Coast Literary Awards came out, and there was a name missing. Sure, nothing is ever guaranteed, but word has it that Kerry-Lee Powell’s Inheritance, due to an error, didn’t even make it to the judges’ eyes, which is a shame, as it’s one of the strongest collections (and not just debut collections) to come out of Atlantic Canada in some time.

It’s a moving, visceral collection, one that’s both accessible and profound, and asks for repeat readings (as any good collection should). I was impressed by how the trauma (a father’s suicide) shapes everything in the book, even the seemingly lighter pieces. You have an event that’s like a bomb going off and its shockwave reverberates for a lifetime.

These are poems that have been lived.  They are layered and hold up to deeper reading:

In this small city of the underpublished, I’m lucky enough to have Kerry-Lee as a neighbour and coffee confidante. A story collection with Harper Collins is due out in 2016. But do find her poetry. You won’t regret it.

Harvey Mapcase’s Dot Kill Dot

No album has played itself out in my head as often as Harvey Mapcase’s Dot Kill Dot in the past year. I’ve listened in the car, on airplanes, in buses or while biking along the river. It’s a surreal, yet catchy compilation, a dreamlike deconstruction of pop and rock. The songs are somehow new, something I didn’t think possible any more. They’re not simply strummings, but are like Gothic cathedrals made of stray thoughts and bound by whim. Does that make sense? It doesn’t have to.

The band, a trio, is fronted by Neil Carlill, whose resume is long and varied, but he’s always a bird quite like no other. Neil fronted Delicatessen, one of the more unique, yet undersung bands of the 90s:

A favourite song from Dot Kill Dot is Ravens Pick Locks:

(On a side note, a mutual interest in the uniquely talented, but undersung, has led us both to admire the work of the late Jamal River, also known as King Toad.)

Sun Kil Moon’s Benji

Seemingly the exact opposite of Carlill’s work, is Mark Kozelek’s. Nothing is hidden, nothing is all that playful or obscure. It fascinates me that I can find this as much appealing as that, but I think it has something to do with neither artist (Carlill or Kozelek) actually giving a fuck about what the audience might think, they have an artistic vision and it trumps all else. Benji is about as raw an album as I’ve ever heard. Just listen to Dogs.

And now listen to Carissa:

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