Trobairitz: Celebration of Voice, Love, Sex & Music in the Poetry of Catherine Owen

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Trobairitz: Celebration of Voice, Love, Sex & Music in the Poetry of Catherine Owen


Review by Mark McCawley


by Catherine Owen
Anvil Press, 5.5×8, 156pp, $18.00 CAN/US
published, Fall 2012

Despite the dark, often violent patriarchal images and themes associated with Trobairitz’s heavy metal subtext and its concomitant social and sexual inequalities and class structures — Catherine Owen’s Trobairitz is an optimistic, even confident collection of poems celebrating the myriad voices of love: passionate love, erotic love, marital love, adulterous love in which Owen has rediscovered and reapplied rare medieval forms against a heavy metal backdrop of the present without losing a single beat.

Instead of embroiling her poems on easy feminist sexual polemics (as many of her reviewers and critics seem to do), Owen celebrates the power and strength of women in her poems in Trobairitz regardless of whether they are set in the 12th or 21st Century (in some poems, time itself merges):
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Will the Real Matthew Firth Step Forward, Please?

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Shag Carpet Action
by Matthew Firth
Publisher: Anvil Press
Price: $18.00 paper
ISBN: 978-1-89753-584-4

One of the major difficulties of writing transgressive, post-realist urban fiction in Canada is how that writing, by and large, is received by reviewers. Largely lacking the critical wherewithal to appropriately interpret transgressive, post-realist urban fiction, reviewers simply regurgitate publisher press releases — often verbatim — then proceed to act as spoilers by giving up what the book is about, story by story, along with a few pithy interpretations.

Matthew Firth, born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, and now living in Ottawa where he works by day for a national trade union has experienced these haphazard literary reviews ever since the publication of his first three collections of transgressive, post-realist short stories: Fresh Meat (Rush Hour Revisions, 1997), Can You Take Me There, Now? (Alley Cat Editions, 2001), and Suburban Pornography and Other Stories (Anvil Press, 2006).
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