Monday, October 19, 2020

Tom Sandborn reviews George Stanley's Love Is Not an Algorithm (2020) in the Vancouver Sun

Tom Sandborn was good enough to provide the first review of Vancouver poet George Stanley's Love Is Not an Algorithm (2020) over at the Vancouver Sun. Thanks so much! And of course, you can see the full article here.
Do you love lively language and rigorous thought? Try long-time Vancouver poet George Stanley, a too-little-known writer who can be a delightful discovery

Love is Not an Algorithm
By George Stanley, Above/Ground Press (Ottawa, 2020)

$5 | 24pp.

George Stanley is one of Vancouver’s best-kept secrets.

For anyone who loves shapely language and rigorous thought, this too-little-known writer can be a delightful discovery. Stanley, an Irish-American poet from San Francisco, has been living and writing in B.C. since 1971, and much of his remarkable poetry reflects his Canadian experiences.

He writes in “Montmartre” that “I started out in Montmartre/in the bars and cafes. I drank/With Manet and Baudelaire/Now I drink at the Fringe Café/on West Broadway, in Vancouver. I’m one of the ‘regulars’.”

And he has indeed been a regular in the world of poetry for most of his adult life, and certainly all of his time in Canada, publishing collections, chapbooks and stand-alone poems. (Full disclosure: I have known Stanley since he arrived in Vancouver in the ’70s. I have also reviewed earlier volumes of his poetry, including a review in 2018 of Some End/West Broadway.)

Despite creating an impressive body of work over his Canadian decades, Stanley has never achieved the commercial success or notoriety that can come, even in these post-poetry years, to more emotionally and intellectually accessible writers, either in his home country or here in Canada.

Because Stanley seems to have read and digested almost everything ever published, his work is intellectually dense; and yet his keen-eyed observations of the fine grain particulars of his city and his mind invite the reader in and reward careful attention. His book-length Vancouver: A Poem (2008) and his jointly authored (with George Bowering in 2018) Some End/West Broadway are both master classes in poetic observation, reflection and distillation. A George Stanley poem can deliver the potent kick and long lasting after-pleasure of a glass of single-malt scotch.

While Stanley is not likely to ever be a mass-market poet, he has been recognized by the Poetry Society of America with that body’s Shelley Award in 2006, and in 2011

The Capilano Review devoted an entire issue to printing both his original work and poems and essays of appreciation from many powerful voices within the world of current poetry. Clearly, he is a poet’s poet.

But don’t let that scare you off. Love is Not an Algorithm will reward any careful reader with its lyrical reflections on love, desire, the beautiful, the mind and the city.

Highly recommended.

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