The Men: A Lyric Book
In Vancouver as the dark winter tapered into spring
I undertook to sing
My life my body these words
The men from a perspective.
The Men is a work that will be both familiar and fresh to anyone who has read Lisa Robertson. As a poet Robertson has received unrivaled praise for her uncompromising intelligence and style. The Men will not only compliment her previous work, but will add a new layer as a far more personal and lyrical book than anything she has yet published. Who are the men? The Men are a riddle. What do they want? Their troubles become lyric. The Men explores a territory between the poet and a lyric lineage among men. Following a tradition that includes Petrarch’s Sonnets, Cavalcanti, Dante’s works on the vernacular, Montaigne, and even Kant, Robertson is compelled towards the construction of the textual subjectivity these authors convey - a subjectivity that honours all the ambivalence, doubt, and tenderness of the human. Yet she remains angered by the structure of gender these works advance. It is this troubled texture of identification that she examines in The Men. How does a woman of the present century see herself, in men’s lyric texts of the renaissance, in the tradition of the philosophy of the male subject, as well as in the men that surround her, obfuscating, dear, idiotic and gorgeous as they often seem? What if ‘she’ wrote ‘his’ poems? At once intimate and oblique, humorous and heartbreaking, composed and furious, - The Men seeks to defamiliarize both who, and what men are.
Lisa Robertson was born in Toronto and for many years lived in Vancouver, where she was a member of the Kootenay School of Writing and Artspeak Gallery. She is the author of The Apothecary (1991), XEclogue (1993), Debbie: An Epic, which was nominated for the Gevernor General’s Award in 1998, The Weather, awarded the Relit Poetry Prize in 2002, Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture, a Village Voice top book of 2004, and Rousseau’s Boat, which won the 2005 bpNichol Chapbook Award. She now lives in France.