Posts for Tag | Dennis Cooley

Truth or Beauty and Bloody Jack

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Author
Benjamin Laird

At the end of November I presented a paper at Truth or Beauty: Poetry and Biography in Wellington. It was useful and interesting to hear a range of views on biographical poetry (or verse biography as it was sometimes referred).

I presented on my own works-in-progress but mostly on Dennis Cooley’s Bloody Jack. Bloody Jack, which is loosely about the life of the early twentieth-century Manitoban outlaw John Krafchenko, has two editions. The first was published in 1984 with the second edition—which includes alterations to poems, additional poems and poems moved within the sequence—published in 2002. What is fascinating about the two editions of Bloody Jack is how the representation of John Krafchenko’s life story in them is unstable.

Biographical poetry tends not to get its own description so my starting point was within documentary poetry (which is too wide a category but I will leave that ...

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