The two sections in Jacob McArthur Mooney’s virtuoso collection – one rural in orientation, one urban – open an intricate conversation. Taking as its inciting incident the 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia, before moving to the neighbourhoods around Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Folk is an elaborately composed inquiry into the human need for frames, edges, borders, and a passionate probe of contemporary challenges to identity, whether of individual, neighbourhood, city, or nation. Mooney examines the fraught desire to align where we live with who we are, and asks how we can be at home on the compromised earth. This is poetry that poses crucial questions and refuses easy answers, as it builds a shimmering verbal structure that ventures “beyond ownership or thought.” Mooney’s distinctive voice is seriously unsettling, deeply appealing, and answerable to our difficult times.
This is a book about airplanes and towns, about geography, and geometry. Taking as its inciting incident the 1998 crash of SwissAir Flight 111 off the coast of the author's native Nova Scotia, Jacob McArthur Mooney's second collection of poetry considers the structure of communities dominated by single ideas, single industries, and single events. Moving from the rural settings of the opening poems, through to the suburban clatter of the immigrant settlements around Toronto's Pearson International Airport, the book considers the human quest for "home" in all its forms — spiritual, cognitive, and physical — with the anarchic linguistic sense, subversive wit, stunning psychological acuity, and honest emotion that have garnered this young writer much well-deserved attention and praise.
Excerpted from Folk by Jacob McArthur Mooney. Copyright © 2011 by Jacob McArthur Mooney. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
A Globe and Mail Best Book
Praise for The New Layman's Almanac:
"A rollicking debut from a young enthusiast with some of Walt Whitman's beaming sincerity. . . . Mooney takes authentic and big literary risks, by exploring sincere emotionality, genuine political belief and considered poetic experiment. . . . This is Canada speaking, loud, clear, quirky and unashamed to be itself. This is surely one of the most audacious and fresh poetic debuts of the new Canadian century."
- Globe and Mail
"[Mooney] offers a mischievous, postmodern spin on the ol' compendium. . . . The raw material of much of Mooney's work is familiar. . . . But these common subjects are refracted through an idiosyncratic, antic syntax. Above all, Mooney revels in playing with language. . . . A cerebral lark."
- Toronto Star
FINALIST 2011 Dylan Thomas Prize