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Bloom [Paperback]

Michael Lista

List Price: CDN$ 22.95
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Book Description

April 3 2010

Bloom is the electrifying debut collection from one of our best emerging poets. If a studio technician could "remix" poems by modern and contemporary poets so they retold the story of the Manhattan Project from the viewpoint of Louis Slotin, simultaneously putting Robert Lowell in whispered conversation with Ted Hughes, as vocalized by a Canadian physicist from Winnipeg, over the current state of literary utopian projects, we'd hear something nearly as captivating as Michael Lista's Bloom. As it is, we also get "Lista" swimming ghostlike through this palimpsest-narrative, inhabiting Slotin and brashly "tickling the dragon's tail" at the nucleus of untested notions of creation, stasis, and destruction. In Bloom, one of the most dangerous historical fulcrums of the last century is somehow made viscerally present again, and, more wondrously, made to radiate outward into very current crises.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: House of Anansi Press; 1st Edition edition (April 3 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887849512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887849510
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 16.3 x 0.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #236,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Quill & Quire

There aren’t many Canadian books of poetry that are anticipated with quite so much excitement as Michael Lista’s debut, which has been the talk of the town for some time. But the book outpaces the expectations even of those kindly disposed to it.

The idea behind Lista’s book is simple: it mirrors Joyce’s Ulysses by tracing a day in the life of one Louis Slotin, a Canadian physicist. Slotin is working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, and dies during a nuclear accident. Like Leopold Bloom, Slotin is a cuckold. Also like Joyce’s book, Bloom includes many references to ancient myth. Mimicking Joyce is a potentially fatal mistake: Martin Amis, a noted stylist, once said of Ulysses that, like the nuclear bomb, it “can’t be done again”; Joyce is a cul-de-sac.

As if that weren’t ambitious enough, Lista piles imitation on imitation: each poem is “after” that of another famous poet, such as Hughes, Seidel, or Auden. (The weakest poems are the most slavishly imitative of Joyce’s prose.) Some of the poems are obviously written in the manner of a great poet; others have an element or a few lines that show their indebtedness. For example, “Louis Slotin’s Flaw,” which is “after Robert Lowell,” doesn’t really imitate Lowell at all, except for its obvious reference to Lowell’s “Skunk Hour”: “The bastard knows I see him there. / He recovers, waves and will not scare.”

What is really remarkable about this book is not its ventriloquism but the dramatization of Slotin’s love for his wife. Bloom is, at its core, a love story, and it’s love that gets the best lines. “Wandering Rocks” calls “love a half-life / to be absent through and waited safely out / lest by it we be fatally injured, but never injured.” This feeling of bereftness pervades the collection.

So much in Bloom is quotable, so much is considered. The book is homage and meta-homage. What’s left is for Lista to write with less overt tethers to others’ imaginations. But that’s next, surely.


Perfectly weighted. (Michael Landry salon 2010-04-10)

There is much to take from this collection. Not only is its face beautiful, its body yields clues both to the genetic makeup of poetry - the process of parenting and birthing it - and the purpose of life. (Nigel Beale Globe and Mail 2010-07-09)

Bloom is all one might hope for in a book of poetry: an unencumbered, nervy fusion of imagination and form. (Jennifer Still Winnipeg Free Press 2010-09-25)

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Feb. 8 2012
By Simon Barrett - Published on Amazon.com
Hot chihuahuas, can this dude write! Are you paying attention? A more accomplished poetic debut I have yet to come across. While reading it (which you'll want to do, I'm convinced, 'd'un trait', like a thirsty man downing a pint) I was thinking 'Yes, this level of depth and fluidity is what The Waste Land was working towards or has enabled'. To call it 'accomplished' is to do the man a disservice - it is (quietly) devastating

[I have deliberately refrained from being more specific, as is generally my policy; reviews aren't synopses and shouldn't be spoilers. But if you're interested in modern poetry at all, get ahold of this. Trust me]

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