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The False Laws of Narrative

The Poetry of Fred Wah

Fred Wah; Louis Cabri, editor

Laurier Poetry Series

Paper 102 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-046-0

Release Date: October 2009

Online discount: 25%

$18.99  $14.24


eBook availability

The False Laws of Narrative is a selection of Fred Wah’s poems covering the poets entire poetic trajectory to date. A founding editor of Tish magazine, Wah was influenced by leading progressive and innovative poets of the 1960s and was at the forefront of the exploration of racial hybridity, multiculturalism, and transnational family roots in poetry. The selection emphasizes his innovative poetic range.

Wah is renowned as one of Canada’s finest and most complex lyric poets and has been lauded for the musicality of his verse. Louis Cabri’s introduction offers a paradigm for thinking about how sound is actually structured in Wah’s improvisatory poetry and offers fresh insights into Wah’s context and writing. In an afterword by the poet himself, Wah presents a dialogue between editor and poet on the key themes of the selected poems and reveals his abiding concerns as poet and thinker.

Louis Cabri is author of The Mood Embosser, which was awarded the 2002 book of the year by Small Press Traffic (San Francisco), and —that can’t (forthcoming). He edited, from Philadelphia, the poets’ newsletter PhillyTalks and co-edited, from Ottawa/Calgary, hole magazine and books. He teaches literary theory, Canadian and US modern and contemporary poetry, and creative writing at the University of Windsor.

Fred Wah has been involved with a number of literary magazines over the years, such as Open Letter and West Coast Line. Recent books are the biofiction Diamond Grill (1996), Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity (2000), a collection of essays, and Sentenced to Light (2008), a collection of poetic image/text projects. He splits his time between the Kootenays in southeastern B.C. and Vancouver.


“Wah’s attention to the local is meticulous. It is also very inventive.... Cabri’s...critical work in False Laws provides a sophisticated, wide-ranging analysis of Wah’s generic/theoretical concerns (the collage epic, the sound of language, hybrid identity) and his main historical influences (William Carlos Williams, the Black Mountain poets).... [A] well-edited collection and a solid step towards the wider circulation of Wah’s poetry.”

— David Barrick, matrix

“Louis Cabri offers a marvelous map of Wah’s concerns.... Fred Wah is a modernist with a difference; one hopes that they (and significant others) point us toward a future poetics of negotiated, rather than enforced, differences.”

— Susan M. Schultz, Tinfish Editor’s Blog

“The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming.”

— Paul Milton, Canadian Literature

“It’s about time...that someone came along to write a book such as this. And it’s a pleasure to see it as part of the Laurier Poetry Series, which has achieved a standard of excellence that other institutions should be admiring and emulating.... The False Laws of Nature is an excellent selection of Wah’s poetry from his earliest to his most recent. Cabri demonstrates not just an understanding of but a profound respect for Wah both as an individual and as a poet. Cabri has created the standard by which all others should be judged.”

— John Herbert Cunningham, Prairie Fire Review of Books