This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

September-October 2017

REVIEW: New poetry collection draws from found documents from the 19th century

Inside Better Nature by Fenn Stewart

Lauren Matera

Nature-Cover-510-9781771663880Better Nature
By Fenn Stewart
BookThug, $18

Better Nature is the first book of poetry by writer and University of British Columbia lecturer Fenn Stewart. She brings together found documents (mainly drawing from an 1880 diary detailing Walt Whitman’s travels through Canada) in a radical effort to “unsettle” Canadian colonial foundations. Stewart’s poems are rife with political stamina yet never feel didactic, each one a carefully considered act of defiant intertextuality. With bounding lines that seamlessly blend the archival with the contemporary, Better Nature stitches together its source material with precision. The result is pure poetic wit and a timely perspective on the shaping of Canada’s landscape.

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