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October 09 , 2008

Seven Into Even


Seven Into Even reworks Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene in counterpoint to the seven deadly sins, and brings these vast references through a mesh of contemporary settings and issues in a series of poetic installations. The number seven works as an organizing principle: the book struggles with narrative and its constraints, questioning the development of characters as a poetic device, and reflecting on itself as it builds.

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Seven Into Even is prose poetry at light speed, intermingled with the luscious slowness of short line leaps. Its seven sections explore the geographical spaciousness and local landscapes of Canada. Jacqueline Turner walks her poems through the handful of streets that make up Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay, to the Ship & Anchor in Calgary, and invites them to notice the way the sidewalks curve and cars stop for pedestrians – even if they’re jaywalking. Her characters are unsure and ambivalent – and yet confident enough to highlight the fallacies of knowledge, reality, and truth.

The scale of Turner’s project is both daunting and paradoxical. Like Spenser, she considers the differences between appearance and reality, probing them for resonance. She records the noises that emanate beyond the surface of things, building intensities through the thrill and push of language as it rushes across the page. By playfully mixing genres, this book undoes the distinction between high and low art with an exciting series of linguistic collisions.

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