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By Word of Mouth

The Poetry of Dennis Cooley

By Dennis Cooley
Edited by Nicole Markotic
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature, Poetry
Series Laurier Poetry Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554580071, 84 pages, June 2007
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587407, 84 pages, October 2009


echolalia by Dennis Cooley

the first thing you should know

about me is i am

a sound poet

i wind up &

throw my voice

into the tent

: like that

? how you like that

neat don't you think

all the loops in the system

some smart guy said well

what's the point

it's canvas isn't it

& you say yeah well so what

it's paint yr smearing there

all over the canvas yr words are paint

he's a real pain in the ass that guy

the important thing is

i take soundings see

i try to hear myself

try to hear you hearing

yur eyes grow green & big

that's how i find myself that's how

i find you

i can hear where you sizzle

& pop

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
By Word of Mouth: The Poetry of Dennis Cooley, selected with an introduction by Nicole Markotić

Foreword | Neil Besner

Biographical Note

Introduction: By Word of Mouth: An Introduction to Dennis Cooley’s Poetry | Nicole Markotić

A Poem for You, Leaving Winnipeg


“& we are skinbags of heated water    dreaming”

in his tangerine skin

the love song of j l krafchenko or the trans canada in (trance crypt

Sonya Orlowsky

Paul sd


I think “ego”; ergo I am


anatomy of love

prairie romance

behind the door

moon musings

holy cow

inner ear

my eye

melodious rhyme

he replies to his critics


“In Germany cooley is a migrant labourer”

“Wished we had the camera for David”

winnipeg in winter

a series of shocking pre-positions

“mother tongue”

“this on remembrance weekend”

“bodies are”

jack’s dictionary of cunning linguists

blood brothers

red men ace


the red /emption of blood

“& not that he’s wrong”

“& a crate of apples could i suppose”

“& listening to night sticky with sweat”

after words | Dennis Cooley

Selected Cooley Poems: Sources


Dennis Cooley, one of Canada’s most prominent poets, says writing becomes political when you play with certain kinds of voices. His poetry has been influenced and inspired by the prairies and other Canadian poets, but he insists on disturbing the formal poetic inheritance he esteems. His engagement with a variety of speaking voices asks that readers question authority and challenge institutional privilege. In By Word of Mouth, a collection from across his career, readers will discover how Cooley returns to the prairie vernacular and speaks to Canadian identity. Poetry, says Cooley, is about our time and our place.

Nicole Markotić’s introductory essay discusses how Dennis Cooley plays with poetic reference, inspires with syntactical surprises, parodies contemporary writing, and indulges in wild, celebratory puns. This book roams around Dennis Cooley’s poetical world and invites the reader to play along.


``The introduction is particularly enjoyable because Markotić does not just stand back and analyze Cooley's poetry; instead, she thoroughly enters into Cooley's playful punning and rule-breaking even as she explores his themes and moods. ''

- Paul W. Harland, Journal of Canadian Poetry

``The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming. ''

- Paul Milton, Canadian Literature, 193, Summer 2007

``By Word of Mouth and the Laurier Poetry series are a welcome and important contribution to widening the reach and availability of Canadian poetry. ''

- Jennifer Dales, ARC Poetry Magazine, 60, Summer 2008

``Besner and the LPS [Laurier Poetry Series] deserve acknowledgement for making and taking such a smart opportunity. Bracketing the selections with a critic's introduction and the poet's reflection offers readers important reminders that beyond being simply texts susceptible to criticism, poems are expressions from the hearts and minds of people. ''

- Michael Roberson, Canadian Literature, 201, Summer 2009

``Nicole Markotić, the editor, has done an excellent job of selecting a broad-based representation of Cooley's work. Her introduction is invaluable for understanding Cooley's poetics and for guiding readers through the minefield of Cooleydom. Without it, the uninitiated reader would be lost.''

- John Cunningham, Prairie Fire, October 2007