Poet · Critic · Editor
"The poetic catalogue of ordinary things James Pollock creates in Durable Goods is wry and bracingly dark. The poet’s cool eye on the everyday makes the familiar strange, as objects seem to conspire to educate us in a dire metaphysic. An oscillating fan is “a time-lapse sunflower in a cage”; a dishwasher makes a “crazed assault/on indifferent death itself.” But there’s pleasure, even joy here as well: the genuine delight of naming precisely, of making an elegant architecture of meaning out of the stubborn, contrary things that surround us."
"James Pollock’s latest collection, Durable Goods, presents a speaker able to mine seemingly insignificant objects for the astonishing. These elegant but intimate poems echo the very best of Tony Harrison and James Merrill—works which, beneath the sparkle of their cheeky humour, exhale with vulnerability and generosity and edge towards the oracular.”—Alexandra Oliver
From the Cover
Durable Goods is a book of sharply imagined poems about everyday technology. James Pollock calls to surprising life everything from microwaves to kettles, sprinklers to umbrellas, with a precision both unerring and effortless. By conjuring the essential spirit of each object, the poet reveals the tools and appliances that surround us as both sympathetic reflections of ourselves—our fear, love, rage, hope and grief—and strange beings with inner lives of their own. “It knows how much pressure you’ve been under,” Pollock writes, of the barometer, “that you could use a change of atmosphere.”
Read together, these poems immerse us in an imagined world with the power to make us see our own in a new way. Suffused with dazzling wordplay, razor wit, and rippling sonic effects, the poems richly reward being read aloud. For Pollock, the most durable good is language itself.
James Pollock is the author of Durable Goods (Véhicule Press/Signal Editions), which made The Miramichi Reader's list of the best poetry books of 2022; Sailing to Babylon (Able Muse Press, 2012), a finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award in Poetry, and winner of an Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association; and You Are Here: Essays on the Art of Poetry in Canada (The Porcupine's Quill, 2012), a finalist for the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award for a collection of essays. He is also editor of The Essential Daryl Hine (The Porcupine's Quill), which made Partisan magazine's list of the best books of 2015. His poems have appeared in The
Paris Review, AGNI, Plume, The Walrus, and elsewhere. They have also won the Manchester Poetry Prize, the Magma Editors' Prize, and the Guy Owen Prize from Southern Poetry Review, and have been reprinted in anthologies in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., including The Next Wave: An Anthology of 21st Century Canadian Poetry. His essays have appeared in Contemporary Poetry Review, Canadian Notes & Queries, Literary Review of Canada, and elsewhere. He graduated from York University in Toronto, earned a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston, and is now Professor of English at Loras College. He lives with his wife and son in Madison, Wisconsin.