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Stephen Collis self-portrait

To mark National Poetry Month, In other Words is being guest-edited by rob mclennan. Throughout April, rob will present the work of dozens of poets he thinks deserve readers' attention, as seen through the eyes of their fellow poets.

Today: Kim Minkus on Stephen Collis





From On the Material

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Maybe we sleep our way out of this world ferries without passengers setting off into darkening waters night boats to nowhere everything enfolds



The I goes on speaking as though the air between us was made material by words fulminating like radical breezes rushing through isolate leaves



The ripening we have looked for is the ripening that comes after - the great death (this is Rilke) each of us carries inside is the fruit



Sitting in an airport waiting for a plane to take me to Chicago I wander through the pages of Stephen Collis's books - Mine, Anarchive, The Commons and now On the Material. Also, a selection of chapbooks -- Blackberries, Quixote Variations and variations of Quixote written or translated with various collaborators. Collis has described himself as a historian, and so he has lead me through Vancouver Island's coal mines, the Spanish Civil War and Wordsworth's Lake District. I sit on the plane and begin a poetic response:

Trust us truth it's death (not sleep) that tucks us in

The poet Susan Howe writes that, "Somewhere Thoreau says that exaggerated history is poetry." I read Collis's exaggerations, though I think of them as mash-ups. A musical rather than a critical term is more fitting -- since these poems sound. Collis listens to voices -- stringing and twisting vocal notes -- weaving his own anarchic project. His words are the material that travels with you, that exist in that space that is nowhere, liminal, un-homed.

absence too is felt not seen after reading after the vale

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-- Kim Minkus

Kim Minkus is a Vancouver-based poet.

Photo of Stephen Collis by Stephen Collis

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