Airstream Land Yacht Paperback – Mar 21 2006
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The Airstream Land Yacht is a brand of American motorhome as well as Ken Babstock's third collection of poetry, shortlisted for the 2006 Governor General's Award. In this vehicle, Meaning and Sense take a back seat while Sound drives. Babstock doesn't so much mean as sing, packing each poem with a flurry of sonorous details. At times, his images can be utterly exact and startling ("clutching tongs that pincer-gripped a heat-split wiener"), or surreal and humorous, as in this reference to autumn: " the valley's trees pulled their embarrassing sports coats on." The book is divided into four parts: Air, Stream, Land and Yacht. Too often the author whips up an impenetrably dense froth of language; at other times, when he is not quite so intent on revealing the blur inside his head, he can conjure a poem that whispers down and settles inside the reader like a fine, even snowfall, as in 'The Tall Ships Docked in Kiel Harbour'. Theres little doubt that no one else in Canadian poetry today (except perhaps, George Elliot Clark) has quite the Babstock ear, as he sets the reader whirling with his complex rhythms and rhymes that are never simple but always refreshingly devious: "we finished early to a round / of applause from a bank of thundercloud." --Mark Frutkin
...more contemplative, more world-weary, more overtly philosophical (than Mean)....the love poems in this book are a real accomplishment. (Arc Poetry Magazine 2006-09-01)
...one of the most daring, progressive, frustrating, and exhilarating poetry books in years. (Books In Canada 2007-02-01)
As Auden was to the English 1930's, so too is Ken Babstock to the Canadian 2000's - the key figure of the under-40's generation...perhaps the most important poetry book yet from any Canadian born in the 1970's or beyond...a hauntingly thoughtful meditation on awareness and responsibility for others. (Globe and Mail 2006-09-01)
Babstock's ear remains finely attuned. Always adept at capturing speech cadences, in these new poems he plumbs as much from the jumpy rhythms of thought, and what gets sacrificed in accessibility is more than made up for in surprise...Babstock's courageous lack of complacency in deviating so drastically from his excellent past work confirms him as one of the country's finest poets. (Quill & Quire 2006-09-01)
In Babstock's work there is a sense of down-home intellectual, country tunes that David Bowie might compose. (Malahat Review 2007-05-01)
Ken Babstock is no regular middle-of-the-pack poet...there's almost a tactile pleasure in how words sound, and a multitude of striking phrases vivid to both the ear and the eye...Airstream Land Yacht is poetry that hums along in high gear. (Toronto Star 2006-09-01)
Reading Ken Babstock is like following the trunk of a tree upward as it divides and subdivides, fraying into the finest threads until a beautiful but complex circuitry webs the sky. Simply put, he makes the brain hurt, forcing us to exert that dusty 90 per cent we rarely use....a seductive, exquisitely crafted look at the overlay of the wordless visible world and the conscious act of mapping that world. (Edmonton Journal 2006-12-03)