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Richard Stevenson : Comments by Writers & Critics


Selected Comments

Driving Offensively

"Driving Offensively is a book of first-rate poetry and a human document full of compassion and wisdom. Highly recommended."
                     —Michael Williamson, Canadian Book Review Annual (1985-86)


Suiting Up

"Rich metaphors — a distinct voice — the reader hangs off the crispness of each word."
                     —Vernon Mooers, Writer's Lifeline


Horizontal Hotel

"There have been few such faithful, self-examining white reports from Africa as Stevenson offers — ."
                     —Michael Thorpe, Toronto South Asian Review


Whatever It Is Plants Dream…

"This collection is wide-ranging and very ambitious. — Theodore Roethke would have danced with this book, hugging each line scraped hard by dirt — and then had a mood swing and been jealous!"
                     —Phil Hall, Books in Canada


Learning To Breathe:

"The power of Stevenson's poetry lies in a reliance on the particularities of personal experience, and in a forceful combination of narrative and lyric styles that successfully portray the several seasons of being male."
                     —Matthew Manera, The Canadian Forum


"These are poems like novels, like paintings, like rainbows. From far Cathay (Beijing) and the massacre to Marika's new black seven-league shoes, the range of these poems is wonderful, their scope both micro- and cosmos-reaching marvelous."
                     —Al Purdy


From The Mouths of Angels

"Stevenson is adept at making his own poetic windows, framing experience and impression with a feel for how words sound and images might be perceived. — His often off-kilter takes on things are permeated with a gently rueful sense of humour."
                     —Valerie Warder, NeWest Review


Flying Coffins

"Poet Richard Stevenson, who has just won the 1993 WGA award for best book of poetry for From the Mouths of Angels, is a meticulous wordsmith. — [His] best poems gleam with ironic humor and heartfelt insights. They are unforced discoveries, chanced upon by a thoughtful white man whose conscience is his best guide to Africa."
                     —Mark Lowey, The Calgary Herald


Why Were All The Werewolves Men?

"This book is utter nonsense. Delightful nonsense. — Read one or two of these poems to a rowdy group of nine-year-olds, and you'll have their rapt attention. Read them to yourself and you'll chuckle at the imagery and adroit use of language. Stevenson has an ear for what children like without stooping to patronize . This is one for the young monsters of your household."
                     —David Bly, The Calgary Herald


A Murder of Crows: New & Selected Poems

Finally, after 30 years of writing, Richard Stevenson, Victoria-born writer who served as Editor-in-Chief of Prism International and Alberta Representative of The League of Canadian Poets, is bringing together some of his work in this selection of poems. Stevenson's work is a passionate look at Canadian society. The poems show a fascination with music and literature. They identify heroes and mentors. There is a visceral quality to the writing. It is down to earth and lyrical, writing about day-to-day events, about people on the prairies, about farmers, blue collar workers, the men and women who inhabit bars, the intellectuals who stay close to the earth.
                     —Black Moss Press


Nothing Definite Yeti

Stevenson evokes the nightmare world of dreams, in wit and humour, to create an engaging new folklore for the millennium. The young of all ages will find this book simply a whole lot of fun.
                     —Ekstasis Editions


Live Evil: A Homage To Miles Davis

— the poet captures the fragile purity of this musical genius, "those doeskin notes" transformed on the page into enjambment lines as soulful and tight as the best of the master's improvisations. … What's clear is that with Live Evil, Richard Stevenson has become a charter member of the Great Poetry Orchestra, playing with the likes of Langston Hughes, Amiri Bakara, Corso, Ferlinghetti, and Frank O'Hara. It's illustrious company to be sure, but Live Evil is that good."
                     —Doug Beardsley, Quill & Quire

C 4/4 Miles ( Richard Stevenson with Naked Ear )*

(* CD as yet unpublished; privately distributed through Sound Gallery Enterprises)

I enjoyed what I felt were echoes (or overtones, harmonics?) of stuff (or traditions) you seem to have fully absorbed and turned back into just yourself: Tom Waits ("Step right up!"), Captain Beefheart, even Jim Morrison and the Doors (the "organ" vamp or ambiance on "Kind of Blue"?). The music is, always to my mind, a fitting complement or counterpart, never competitive, but adheres to "principles" that all first-rate jazz musicians adhere to —

EVERYBODY plays percussively (not just the drummer, but bass, Gordon on synth, horn, and even you too!): the compelling opening groove (and suitable aleatoric effects) of "On the Corner"; the electric bass chant on "Zimbabwe" and vamp on "Once Upon a Summertime"; the frog-like croaking ostinato on "Right Off" (its appropriate crouch and weave pugilistic stance; your own repeated "r" sounds there: not burred, but "right off the mark"); the smooth wire brush work and steady bass drum poots on "Miles' Take on Sugar Ray"; the ensemble (guitar/bass/drums) on "Bitches Brew" (with its fine "hollow body Gibson talk" funky blues; and subtle calabash beaded clicks, sandpaper smooth); the surprising restraint at the start of "Live Evil" (bass vamp again, snare tocks, wah wah bent tones) building to "frightening runs of electric shred acid blues"; and the small sounds that open and close (inquisitive swamp voicings, and lanquid, humid bass notes), the "new dawn" of "Gondwana." I loved it all: "subarashii" (Japanese for superb, wonderful!).

                     —William Minor, poet, jazz critic; author of Unzipped Souls: A Jazz Journey through The Soviet Union and Monterey Jazz Festival: Forty Legendary Years (from a letter to the author)


Hot Flashes: Maiduguri Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka

Though there are serious undertones at times, the comic poems centered on small details and brief dialogues really make the collection and stay in the mind. Stevenson shows himself to be a virtuoso of the haiku, and also shows how in a globalized culture a Canadian poet can successfully use Japanese forms to illuminate African realities.
                     —Graham Good, Canadian Literature


Take Me To Your Leader!

The poems — are more than entertainment: Maybe we really are the victims of a cosmic joke, pulled through a Loonie Tune wormhole patch. Maybe some of us have had a soul transfer. Whatever's happened one thing's certain: These poems are full of clever rhymes that will make you laugh out loud and even guffaw. It's a hip and inventive collection and Stevenson has an obvious affection for aliens. Joseph Anderson, his illustrator, seems to be in tune with the critters too. Besides the cover art, the book contains 20 wacky illustrations. Buy it for the kids; keep it for yourself.
                     —Lori Lavallee, Lethbridge Insider


Parrot With Tourette's

What all of these poems have in common is that they're grounded in the here and now, grudgingly grey but far from uptight. One of the loudest voices in this collection, however, emanates from a 500-pound bird. In fulfilling its role as signature piece, Parrot With Tourette's gives expression to our alter ego: It's the part of us that wants to be oblivious to social norms; the part driven to tell it like it is, with street smarts and a limber tongue.
                     —Lori Lavallee, Lethbridge Insider


Richard Stevenson's works copyright © to the author.


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