Ardor: Poems of Life by Janine Canan

Ardor: Poems of Life by Janine Canan is a hefty and heavy set of poems and essays about life, the destruction of the earth, and the destruction of the planet wrought by men.  Broken down into eight sections from communing with God, homage to the strength of women, the sadness that comes from a destroyed planet, and a general awaking to the wonders of the world and moving into a full experience of life.  The second section, “Tears for the World,” and section three, “Indestructible Woman,” offer a no-holds-barred perspective on destruction caused by humanity or the oppression of women by men in societies across the world even today.  In many ways, some of these poems mirror the most radical forms of Ecofeminism, in which women are the closest to the Earth and should resume their position as leaders and teach men to cooperate with nature rather than dominate it — though some even espoused the dominion of women over men.  There is even one poem dedicated to the late Mary Daly, one of the main philosophical thinkers of the movement.

From Woman Is Space:

“Woman is space
the wind
the grass
the river
the peacock complaining
to the river
the word emerging like the river
the woman stepping out of the river.

like a rising river” (page 89)

There are lines and images and moments here that will make some angry, while others will nod their heads at the truth of it.  There is the destruction of nuclear bombs created by men, there are the women who are subservient to men, and there is even more.


“The air writhes.
The water gags.
The rocks slide.
The mountains sweat.
Plants cringe.
Trees crash.
Animals glare.
Women bleed.

Man has his boot on every inch of the world.
His conquest is nearly complete.” (page 64)

While these are hymns and elegies to the earth and women, there are other poems that are less “abrasive” than others, but still offer a sense of what the reader is trying to convey about the harm that has come to the planet and to women. The less declarative poems are the most powerful, offering imagery that recalls in the mind the beauty of nature and the wonders that are yet unexplored. These poems call on readers to regain their childlike wonder and stand in awe of the world around them, not to tear it asunder in the thirst for fulfillment.

From “A Divine Meal”:

“I like my disheveled plate with a well-licked fork
sprawling satisfied across it, a pause
between each dish for emptying my mind
and manifesting a new one.

Conversation too I enjoy, voices harmonically arranged,
And food, the kind that tastes good.
I love my senses sublime, and a good cook
is one of the million gods I worship.” (page 23)

From “The Joy”:

“Along the hills of your body
I rooted in the fragrant earth.

Stretching my blooming arms
I heaved with offerings.

I was a peach dripping gold
and you drank me.” (page 104)

Ardor: Poems of Life by Janine Canan mixes philosophy, history, poetic imagery, and declarative statements to create a collection of poems and essays that examine the state of the modern world without sugar coating anything.  There are moments that will get under readers’ skins and maybe cause them to stop reading in disagreement, but Canan’s poems should not be ignored given the degradation that continues to happen from the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico to the oppression of women that continues today.  These are issues that cannot be ignored if the planet and humanity are to survive beyond just a few generations.

About the Poet:

JANINE CANAN’s first book of poems, Of Your Seed, was published in 1977, thanks in part to the National Endowment for the Arts. Since that time, the poet has authored 18 books of poetry, translations, essays and stories.

This is the 27th book for my 2012 Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.


This is my 85th book for the New Authors Reading Challenge in 2012.

Mailbox Monday #196

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is the Mailbox Monday blog.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  The Lost Art of Mixing and The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister for TLC Book Tour.

Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .

Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.

2.  The Hopkins Touch by David Roll for review in January from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Program.

David Roll shows how Harry Hopkins, an Iowa-born social worker who had been an integral part of the New Deal’s implementation, became the linchpin in FDR’s–and America’s–relationships with Churchill and Stalin, and spoke with an authority second only to the president’s. Gaunt, nearly spectral, and malnourished following an operation to remove part of his stomach, the newly widowed Hopkins accepted the president’s invitation to move into the White House in 1940 and remained Roosevelt’s closest advisor, speechwriter, sounding board, and friend nearly to the end. Between 1940 and 1945, with incomparable skill and indefatigable determination, Hopkins organized the Lend-Lease program and steered the president to prepare the public for war with Germany. He became FDR’s problem-solver and fixer, helping to smooth over crises, such as when the British refused to allow an invasion of Europe in 1943, enraging Stalin, who felt that the Soviet Union was carrying the military effort against the Nazis. Lacking an official title or a clear executive branch portfolio, Hopkins could take the political risks his boss could not, and proved crucial to maintaining personal relations among the Big Three. Beloved by some–such as Churchill, who believed that Hopkins “always went to the root of the matter”–and trusted by most–including the paranoid Stalin–there were nevertheless those who resented the influence of “the White House Rasputin.”

3.  Ardor: Poems of Life by Janine Canan for review.

4.  Carnival by Jason Bredle for review.

Jason Bredle’s poems approach the world like a haunted cat approaches a glacier, curious and itchy with strangeness. In Carnival, he skates paratactically between states of being: levity, heart-holes, licks of darkness, lovesickness and werewolfishness. Bredle’s gift as a poet is to traverse and re-traverse one looking glass in ten different moods. When he goes through it, we are taken. -Melissa Broder

5. Leaves by Michael Baron for review with Providence Book Promotions in February.

Welcome to Oldham, CT, a small town rich in Colonial heritage while being utterly contemporary. Situated along the Connecticut River Valley, Oldham bursts with color every fall, as the leaves on its trees evolve into an unmatched palette of scarlet, orange, purple, yellow, and bronze. For more than three decades, the Gold family has been a central part of Oldham in the fall, its Sugar Maple Inn a destination for “leaf-peepers” from all over the country, and its annual Halloween party a stirring way to punctuate the town’s most active month.

But this year, more than just the leaves are changing. With the death of their parents, the Gold siblings, Maria, Maxwell, Deborah, Corrina, and Tyler, have decided to sell the Sugar Maple Inn, and this year’s Halloween party will be the last. As October begins, the Golds contend with the finality that faces them, and the implications it has for a family that has always been so close. For some, it means embracing new challenges and new love. For others, it means taking on unimagined roles. And for others, it means considering the inconceivable. Complicating it all is a series of “hauntings” that touch each of the Gold siblings, a series of benign interventions that will remain a mystery until October draws to a close.

What did you receive?