Book details

Publication date: March 2014
Series: Robert Kroetsch Series
Keywords: Poetry;Canadian Literature
Subject(s): POETRY / Canadian, Creative Writing, Creative Writing / Poetry, Poetry / Canadian Literature, Poetry;Canadian Literature, SPORTS & RECREATION / History, Literature, Poetry
Publisher(s): The University of Alberta Press

Dennis Cooley. dennis cooley was born in Estevan, Saskatchewan. He later moved to Manitoba, where he helped to start the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and was a founding member of Turnstone Press. He taught Canadian literature, poetry, creative writing, and literary theory at the University of Manitoba. He has published widely, including well over a dozen volumes of poetry, notably Bloody Jack (2002), and the bentleys (2006). A recipient of the Manitoba Writers' Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, dennis cooley lives in Winnipeg.

"Writing his way down to basic elements, Cooley writes through the development of language and writing, various ancient histories, books and writers he has read and admired over the years and prairie landscapes, blending them together in an abecedarium that works to explore the very idea of communication: written, spoken and archival. This is Cooley at smart and serious joyful play, pure and simple, bringing the weight of years of reading, listening, research and knowledge to every motion.", accessed May 26, 2014

# 4 on the Winnipeg Bestsellers list (Paperback Fiction) for the week of June 8, 2014

"Winnipeg poet, editor and critic Dennis Cooley’s new poetry collection, abecedarium is an expansive play of puns and train-of-thought sound play constructed through an exploration of a variety of subjects, including the history of the alphabet, references to the works of writers such as Robert Kroetsch, George Bowering and Andrew Suknaski, prairie histories, crows and what the ear hears, and poems that simply appear to propel narratively through and against the sounds of the words themselves.... This is Cooley at smart and serious joyful play, pure and simple, bringing the weight of years of reading, listening, research and knowledge to every motion."

rob mclennan's,

"All writers love language--it's a basic job requirement--but few writers adore the alphabet as much as Winnipeg experimental poet Dennis Cooley.... abecedarium is a convincing challenge to the notion that poetry must be 'difficult' or unpleasant to be relevant. Rather, embracing all that is playful and fun about language, Cooley shows that such poetry can be at its most incisive."

Jay Smith, Alberta Views

"Cooley’s latest collection invites us down to, and then past, the level of alphabet to shred and rebuild meaning from the smallest elements of language. He often does so using humour, sometimes through poetic-historical essays on pivotal moments in the evolution of language and script, and always with a sense of adventure.... In abecedarium, he continues to discuss language in an engaging and exciting way.... He brilliantly conveys and samples these elements—from miniscule, single sounds to sweeping philosophies of language—that together lead to the varied sound and shared meanings that keep language interesting, and that make it work.... To Cooley’s great credit, he adeptly plays to the linguistic elite while still offering something deeply interesting, thought-provoking and even fun to readers less interested in the backstory than the reward." Accessed May 21, 2015 [Full review at]

Anita Dolman, ARC Poetry Magazine

"In recalling its titular genre’s function as exercise book and devotional text, abecedarium at once invokes conceptual writing and remains anchored in the prairie language poetry tradition in which Cooley has been at home for decades." Canadian Literature 226 (Autumn 2015) [Full review at:]

Carl Watts, Literature 226

ISBNs: 9780888646453 978-0-88864-645-3 Title: abecedarium ISBNs: 9781772120332 978-1-77212-033-2 Title: abecedarium