In 1910 Lawrence J. Burpee published an anthology of 100 Canadian Sonnets. Poet and critic Zachariah Wells figured it was high time for an update on that dusty tome. In Jailbreaks, Wells has gathered 99 of his favourite sonnets written by Canadians, from the 19th century to the present day. Jailbreaks does much to question the standard assumption that the best Canadian poetry is written in free verse, while showcasing the enormous versatility of the sonnet and of the poets who use it as a vessel for their thoughts and feelings. It just might change the way we think about Canadian poetry.
“It’s refreshing to see an editor so engaged with his material…the result is a collection that successfully showcases remarkable variety within its narrow room.”—Good Reports
“Richly endowed with sonnets whose wordplay is more ornate, featuring work from such inventive phrasemakers as Margaret Avison, Don McKay and George Elliott Clarke. The list goes on.”—Toronto Star
“What Wells offers is a thematic survey on formalist grounds, a sort of sleight of hand that makes the collection immediately familiar and intelligible but also, as his insightful notes on each poem show, rigorous in its aesthetic evaluations and thoughtful in its attention to details of prosody. As an editor and commentator, Wells is incredibly perceptive and mercifully concise.”—The Walrus