praise for the poetry

Walker’s are wonderful books as well. She is an astute observer of social sites, social spaces and she has a strong commitment to creating such sites as places in which people can flourish. Walker has credentials and credibility as a poet. –Lyn Hejinian

These poems are fragile beauties, reflecting their subject matter–the transition from tangible physical connection to absence and loss. Walker’s choice images, rhythms, syntax, and lineage are surprising and perfect, terse and contained. But by these boundaries, she’s created opening after opening, so that this slim volume feels weighty and vast in its reach and significance. Sensual and intimate, when the light of any action ceases, helps the reader articulate their own journey of longing and grief. – Dawn Trook

Anne Walker’s When the Light of Any Action Ceases collects poems of departure. There is never just one ending in love. Walker explores the small departures of love wherein one prepares for the true conclusion. These poems of endings offer moments of insight into a self layered with the landscape of another. The lover leaves an impression in the sheets, the air of the room, and the self in Walker’s careful image poems. – Jenny Sampirisi

 “Perhaps Anne would have it that “…just before light. That blue” is when the light of any action ceases. But we know that that cobalt blue, indigo even, signals not only the end of night but also the coming of dawn. These poems are like that. Snapshots, still-lyrics, if you will, they point to a bright life lived intensely. They evoke, as do the keenest of images, and we are touched by their power. But they further leap from the page, arrows cast, and point to a greater humanity in all of us yet to come.”–Alfred Arteaga, poet and author of House with the Blue Bed

 “Reading [lovePoems] is like watching Elizabeth Barrett Browning teleported to a California of freeway pile-ups, jumpy sidewalks, and incandescent beds. This is Sonnets from the Portuguese on acid. Exposing the frayed nerves of love and death, Anne F. Walker does all the right channeling.”— Fraser Sutherland, poet and reviewer for The Globe and Mail

 [The Exit Show] was like a cross between e.e. cummings (the lyricism, parenthesizing, and word-blends, some of the punctuation) and Anne Carson’s The Beauty of the Husband (the narrative thrust, sometimes the tone), with a dash of The Love Poems of Elizabeth Sergeant (the eroticism) … There was much more that I liked than disliked. The verbs and adjectives (“skuttered”, “glam-glossed”), the way you snap off the final lines of poems, so different from [the] habit of reaching grandiose conclusions. Most prose-poems are just decorative prose, but yours really are poems. It strikes me as a very feminine poetry with its long flowing lines and hip but varied cadences.—Fraser Sutherland, reviewer for The Globe and Mail

 Anne F. Walker’s fourth collection of poetry, The Exit Show, draws on multiple sexual and romantic partners as a way to explore and articulate complex social and poetic forms. Walker’s collection flows easily through a variety of formal and not-so-formal constructions (prose poems, emails, individual lyrics, and lyric suites), tied together by a powerful rhythmic sensibility reminiscent of a jazz drummer…Walker’s use of rhythm is also worthy of note. Often, with younger poets, there is a struggle to find a cadence both individual and rhythmically fresh, and this effort to break into a kind of improvisational flow strains the poem. Walker’s cadence, on the other hand, is elegant and sure. She is not trying to do—she simply does. Her linguistic drum solos both serve the poem and elevate it.—Sarah Bonet, The Danforth Review

 On first impression, it takes hold through its astonishing lyric beauties and wit … The Exit Show is full of this liveliness of language and bodies that can do anything  … There are snatches of overheard (or underheard – always tantalizing absences and unfinished sentences) conversation, glimpsed gestures and spaces – mostly houses, apartments, cars, the street, familiar spaces.  But if the spaces are familiar, the energies that charge them are dynamic and original in their expression.— Sophie Levy,

 I can’t help but compare her way of looking at poetry to Jazz Theory. Once one notices a pattern, “slippage,” for instance, one can exploit it consciously. In my own verse I’d used the idea of replacing one sense for another, but never turned the notion into a conscious concept that could be applied as a technique.— Eric Kampman, Poetry Discussion

 Into the Peculiar Dark is Anne F . Walker ‘s third [book of poetry] … not just promise, but accomplishment.  Walker’s collection concerns the slow and agonizing death of a sister from bone cancer, counterbalanced with sensuous joy in the birth of a new baby. In both modes there are startling leaps of perception, an adroit use of space on the page (aided by the book’s wide format), together with similes and metaphors that at first seem bizarre but then settle into essential rightness: As if air was invisible bread /  and clouds undyed butter /  spread unevenly. A whole moon from  this scraped-empty sky lights copper /   around itself.  On ecological topics she turns savage, as in Dioxin Song:  “Dioxins in my coffee filter /  Dioxin wipes my ass, /  Dioxins stay forever after /  they bleach us cancerous.”  Now that’s a political poem! … this is an impressive book. It ends by conflating the sister’s death and the ongoing life of the child:  “my eyes hang like little hooded ghost in their sockets. /  the baby dreamed of gluing winds /  on nita last night.”  Walker is described as studying poetry at the University of California at Berkeley. On the evidence, Berkeley could learn something from her.— Fraser Sutherland, The Globe and Mail

 Into The Peculiar Dark is Anne F. Walker’s third collection of poems and by far her most ambitious.  While her earlier collections, Six Months Rent and Pregnant Poems, rely on spare language and finely wrought, sometime elliptical imagism, this latest collection shows Walker’s ability to work with varied and complex forms, and to texture rich powerful language with an attention to sound and tension.  Her subject matter might have something to do with this shift—Walker’s collection winds reader through the death of her sister, and examines the toxins, both environmental and social, that morph a seemingly benign world into one riddled with sinister forces.  This is no simple task.  What the “doctor-don’t-like” (“Chaucerian Hypermodern Stanzas”) amounts to much more than the over malignance:  sexism, pollution, child molestation, colonialism and racism are themes that become intertwined with that of dead and dying, that challenge that our notions of “illness” altogether.  In order to connect what might appear to be random (though troubling) ideas and events, Walker utilizes the lyric, the narrative, the letter, the prose poem, long lines and short ones, all in a successful attempt to unify her divergent subject matters through equally diverse poetic forms.—Andrea Adolph, New Delta Review

 Anne F. Walker’s third book of poetry, Into the Peculiar Dark (winner of second prize in the Alcuin Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada) escapes the trap of clichéd cancer poetry to present a vivid rereading of ill bodies. Repeated terms like “dioxin,” “toxin” and “hypermodern” jar the reader into a discomfort partly aesthetic and partly physical. The collection is divided into three sections presented counter-intuitively, so that part three, “After,” precedes part one, “Before” and part two, “During.” … [inviting] a reading of process, leaving readers in the midst of a cycle at the end of the book. That cycle is reinforced by the back and forth between laments for ailing flesh–“I have begun to mourn while/ her back cakes into a sore living round”—and lyrics of babyhood—“infant fingers/ conducting symphonies inside/ my hips.” … Walker confronts materiality to evoke an agony that too often defies such plain, fresh scrutiny. She captures her own poetic process with the simple lines, “Coffee cups feel unidentifiable in/ tap water, the river beside my baby’s dreams/ to ease clinking of glasses and silver.” … Walker tangles and overlaps language that rewrites the body.— Sally Chivers, Canadian Literature

One of the books that sustained me, was Anne Walker’s Pregnant Poems …  Walker’s spare minimal poems have the courage to confront the difficulties and ambiguities of becoming a mother, of this complicated love that is like nothing else, and the fear that can accompany it … it seems to me that Walker’s is far the stronger and more challenging poem, and is about much more, though a fraction of the length … I do believe that women suffer because of the too simple stories we are given, that we try to force ourselves to be perfectly at ease with what is one of the deepest and most confusing experience possible for anyone.  And if anyone is responsible for breaking taboos and demand more difficult stories, it is the poets.—Maggie Helwig, Books in Canada

Around month seven, a friend gave me Anne F. Walker’s Pregnant Poems, and I was immediately enamored with #24 (tea cozy): You begin to learn the shape of things / underneath things / Knit winter hat / and the curves of pot handles or spout pushing / like a twisting baby’s arm or leg // in a seven month sack’. My pregnant pause had been exactly that, my attempt to “learn the shape of things underneath things,” to allow myself to be read and to acknowledge and embrace that reading.  The tea cozy, its surface and depth—a new topography required new maps.—Jane Malcolm, Mashed Potatoes and Milk are both white so they rhyme — or, the languages of Motherhood

 Walker’s concerns are for women, the earth, and the human beings she encounters, friends and strangers. Her language is strong… [making] these concerns into powerful poetry… Walker makes lines fly into a kind of revelation.—Lara Candland Asplund, Belle Lettres

…beauty encapsulated… satisfying.—Poetry Flash

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