The body betrays.
Recovering in hospital after a burst appendix, plagued by hallucinations and poisonous mistrust, Dennis Cooley retreats to memories of ancestors and of his rural Saskatchewan roots, in departures, his 20th book of poetry.
So it begins.
The moon migrates, seasons cycle, and the body ebbs and flows. Drawing together the skeins of existence and his family's nearness, Cooley joyously intermingles poetry and science. In the end, faced with his own mortality, Cooley fights back with great, big clods of earthy humour and humility.
Deftly he plucks at the strands of our DNA like a four-chord-fugue. Hold the collection close and feel the thrum of wordplay upon the page.
With departures Dennis Cooley coils and uncoils the language of our bodies, the subtle string of cells and letters which bind us to each other and to language. The writing of grief is never simple, never clear - it is a tangle ball of ribbon, sound and story. Here Cooley unwinds and unweaves, reknits and retangles but is never at a loss of words.
--Derek Beaulieu, Calgary Poet Laureate
In departures Dennis Cooley wants to drive you home, but the car is dead, dead like the hospital food and the routines we normally accept when faced with mortal illness. Cooley stays alive in his music, the singer, the jester, the dancer in broken lines—he rejects the routine, finds the right found words, and sloughs off the dead language, death itself.”
--Maurice Mierau, author of Autobiographical Fictions
What a delight to discover new work from Canada’s preeminent literary trickster, Dennis Cooley. This gorgeous new book is a document of loss and leaving. But make no mistake, there is mind-bending word play and genre-defying experimentation in these pages too. Feelings, figures, and fonts collide in departures, Cooleys best work in a long while.
--Jon Paul Fiorentino
Recipient of the 2015 League of Canadian Poets’ lifetime member award and the 2013 Manitoba Writers’ Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, Dennis Cooley has been a key figure in Winnipeg’s literary community for over 30 years. He has written extensively on Canadian literature, published 20 books of poetry, and edited numerous others. For years a CanLit professor at the University of Manitoba, Dennis Cooley, now retired, lives and writes in Winnipeg.