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 Markotic’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.
``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 Markotic, 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
``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
``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
``The introduction is particularly enjoyable because Markotic 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