Robertson, Lisa 1961-
ROBERTSON, Lisa 1961-
Born 1961, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Freelance writer and teacher. Proprioception Books (bookstore), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, proprietor, during the 1990s. Board member of Artspeak Gallery.
Kootenay School of Writing Collective.
Visiting fellow, Cambridge University, 1999; Relit Prize, 2002, for The Weather; finalist, Governor-General's Award for Poetry, for XEclogue.
The Apothecary (chapbook), Tsunami Editions (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1991.
Debbie: An Epic, New Star Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1997.
XEclogue, Tsunami Editions (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1993, revised edition, New Star Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1999.
The Weather, New Star Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2001.
Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture, Clear Cut Press (Astoria, OR), 2003.
Also author of booklets, including The Badge, Mind-Ware (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), 1994; Manifeste pour une architecture douce/Soft Architecture: A Manifesto, Artspeak Gallery (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1999; and, with Christine Stewart and Catriona Strang, Barscheit, MindWare (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), 1993. Contributor to periodicals, including Nest.
Lisa Robertson is a freelance writer and teacher best known for her poetry, which has been widely praised for its richness and intelligence. In her 1997 publication, Debbie: An Epic, Robertson created a title character marked by "a grand mix of tough talking, typographical experiment and sweet description," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. XEclogue, first published in 1993 but revised in 1999, is a collection of ten eclogues. Traditionally, an eclogue is a pastoral poem, presented in the form of a dialog between shepherds. In Robertson's work the eclogues are given abstract titles, including "Honour," "Beauty," and "Liberty," and the dialogs are staged between "Lady M," an eighteenth-century poet, and a character named Nancy. "It's a delightfully complicated rhetorical frame, one that easily supports Robertson's serious investigation of her terms," as well as "a rewarding and varied tradition of postfeminist verse-monologue and drama," reported the reviewer. Commenting on XEclogue in TriQuarterly, Paul Alpers noted, "Good pastoral writing has always been self-aware, capable of reflecting on and ironizing its enabling conventions. Robertson, we might say, ironizes conventional anti-pastoralism and does so by the practices of traditional eclogues." In The Weather, Robertson offered her fourth book-length poem, which was praised by a Publishers Weekly reviewer as "another stunning and severely rich repatterning of the mind's generally uncharted terrain." The reviewer went on to call The Weather, which is divided into sections correlating with the days of the week, "a nervy, rhythmic creation of a poetic environment" in which the poet "is able to isolate and change conceptually driven thought to unfiltered registering of consciousness with breathtaking quickness." Nation reviewer Eileen Myles stated that in The Weather, Robertson "lets the landscape narrate, and from this newly constructed body politic, a collective tells the tale. The writing of the weather descriptions (which, I must admit, instantly changed mine) is incantatory. The Weather is a work of dazzling surface." Favorably reviewing The Weather for The Stranger, Stacey Levine hailed Robertson as "a genuinely diction-mad poet, her work challenging and refined."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Herizons, summer, 2003, Rachel Zolf, review of The Weather, p. 41.
Mosaic, December, 2002, Stephen Collis, "'The Frayed Rope of Rome': Poetic Architecture in Robert Duncan, Ronald Johnson, and Lisa Robertson," p. 143.
Nation, March 11, 2002, Eileen Myles, review of The Weather, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, March 6, 2000, review of XEclogue, p. 108; June 18, 2001, review of The Weather, p. 79; April 26, 2004, review of Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office for Soft Architecture, p. 58.
TriQuarterly, summer, 2003, Paul Alpers, "Modern Eclogues," p. 20.
Cancon: Archives,http://www.canadiancontent.ca/ (October 28, 2004), Marita Dachsel, review of XEclogue.
The Stranger,http://thestranger.com/ (October 28, 2004), Stacey Levine, review of The Weather.*