Skip to main content

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: Marcus McCann on Nicholas Lea

Nicholas Lea was born in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Everything is Movies, his first full-length collection of poems, was launched at the Ottawa International Writers Festival in 2007.

Story continues below advertisement

Marcus McCann: Ironic distance. For Nicholas Lea -- born a year or two before the first of the millennial generation -- irony is a dominating, sometimes paralyzing concern. Lea's first book obsessively ruminates on the tendency of his peers to hide behind hipster poses. And like the very best poets, Lea echoes content in form, breaking up even the hint of an affirmation with questions, equivocations, and slant-rhymes of the truth. Taking the piss is a heady business, but Lea is playful rather than didactic, and he loads his work with gorgeously consonant lines ("somewhere / where dummies wonder, rummage / for rumoured streams") and surprising humour.

Dummies wonder

To what do we owe this unfuturing,

this failing to pale our time?

Am I alone in this?-

The elliptical … cheering on a dummy dream careening into sleep's cabbage-role afghan. You're not-fallen (this-time)-just | under-the-bubble-bath-looking- up.

An unjust stomach bloody with art: abstract and squiggly, like the veins from run-off on a muddy bank. And all this blood-

Story continues below advertisement

flow ferrying primal fear is nothing like dusty sunlight through barn slats.

More like a traveling circus diverted.

So why fry the ironist in all her care-full uncaring? Who's unfeeling when they yawn over-dramatically at the cathedral?

And on the subject of death- the horror of decomposing-the unthink- able thought of being eaten by the world's chemistry. We'll call it

Post-distance-invent a new school in a wood somewhere where dummies wonder, rummage for rumoured streams, all parched and far-fetched.

-- Nicholas Lea, from Everything is Movies (Chaudiere Books, 2007)

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error
We have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We expect to have our new commenting system, powered by Talk from the Coral Project, running on our site by the end of April, 2018. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to