It’s the end of summer, and that means a conclusion to the Terra Informa Summer Book Club. This month, we read Tim Lilburn’s Kill-site, a collection of poems exploring ecology, colonialism and spirituality through the landscape of Southern Saskatchewan. For the children’s segment, we tackle a classic, Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie.
Tim Lilburn’s Kill-site
From the publisher:
To his virtuoso collection of new poems, Tim Lilburn brings a philosopher’s mind and the eyes and ears of a marsh hawk. This series of earthy meditations makes the strange familiar and the familiar strange. Lilburn’s close study of goldenrod, an ice sheet, or night opens into surprising interior and subterranean worlds. Pythagoras lurks within the poplars, Socrates in stones, people fly below the ground. Elsewhere, the human presence of motels and beer parlours is ominous. Kill-site is an exploration of a human’s animal nature. Lilburn invites the reader to: “Go below the small things… then / walk inside them and you have their kindness.” Though a natural progression from Lilburn’s last book, To the River, in Kill-site, the poet moves toward a greater understanding of the human, of sacrifice.
Dennis Lee’s Alligator Pie
Before Dennis Lee published Alligator Pie in 1974, the only poetry most Canadian children knew by heart was Mother Goose. Reading to his own daughters, the Governor General’s Award-winning poet had noticed that the “jolly millers, little pigs and queens” of the old rhymes were no longer “home grown” and recognizable. So he started experimenting with a new kind of nursery rhyme, “not abolishing Mother Goose, but letting her take up residence among hockey sticks and high-rises.” Alligator Pie was an immediate hit, and generations since have grown up chanting Lee’s toe-tapping nonsense about laundromats, skyscrapers, rattlesnakes, and windshield wipers.