These are two books I decided NOT to teach in the fall, for different reasons: Kishkan because I don't know quite what to do except wave it at the class and say, "See? Like this, like this is how you should write!"; Wigmore simply because I didn't manage to lay hands on it in time, and because there were other options. I suspect I'll regret both omissions, but on the positive side, I should be able to make it up in another year.
What to say about Gillian Wigmore?
Believe the hype, I guess, would be an excellent place to start. Every book comes with blurbs aplenty, and it's not unusual for a younger poet to be called an important/brave/talented "new voice." Wigmore's no different in that respect (Robert Hilles providing the relevant blurb here), but there's something quite different about her verse. Tonight, what stands out is that she goes after small moments with clear eyes; of course there's the occasional Big Move, but the poems keep ending small, precisely small, and I'm jealous about her skill.
The characters speaking here aren't all the same, so it's not a question of her having found a voice that works (confessionally, for example) and ridden it until the legs fell off. No, she's worked her craft relentlessly, and the result has been tremendous flexibility in the narrative or lyric voice. These voices share an eye for small things (a knitter's arthritic hands, a camper's presumption that a tent muffles all sounds) and a sense of enmeshedness in the worlds around us (social, ecological, familial, etc), but they come out sounding different.
"Marsh," "Tent: No Shelter," and "Bed Poem" alone are worth the price of admission, and there are a dozen more pieces here that deserve citation. I share with you a few lines, without telling you which poem they're from:
if here is the centreof my own geographyand I am the remembranceof yours--how is itwe are so far from ourselves?we are so closewe are almost attached
And also, this post needs a link to Kate Sutherland's poetry challenge, to which this is NOT a response, because I was going to do it anyway!