Love, death, and high school hit squads. Happyland, Kevin Connolly’s eagerly anticipated second poetry collection, offers a fresh, contemporary approach to two age-old poetic preoccupations — love and death. In tumbling, energetic lines and vivid, visual language, these poems explore the shadows of the old century before training their hopeful but apprehensive attention on the darkening momentum of the new. Connolly fears neither eccentric humour nor high seriousness, and Happyland concusses with a sometimes whimsical, sometimes nasty flood of personal, cultural, and social pornography: doomed submarines, high school hit squads, cow-dung ozone holes, cat-skinners disguised as art students, firemen dressed in flames.… In Happyland, even our transparent, trivial entertainments (like politics and poetry) push us deeper into the semaphore of history. Like it or not, we’re all players, the game’s rigged, and it always comes down to the same sad business of sorting the drowned from the saved. There’s no sitting out a round — either we choose the world, or it chooses us: “It’s midnight on the moon, stars / mutter their familiar cautions, / the leaves misread the cue cards, / strange words wander the freeway like mice.”
“This is poetry contra poetry, a largesse of language about diminishing returns. Connolly’s work sells you a ticket for the stand-up act and leaves you in your seat for the end of the world.”
— Michael Redhill
Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, Kevin Connolly has spent most of his life in Toronto, where he works as a poet, editor, and critic. From 1985 to 1993 he was co-founder and co-editor of the influential literary magazine What! and in the mid-90s, his Pink Dog chapbook series featured early work by some of the city's best young writers, including Lynn Crosbie, Gary Barwin, Gil Adamson, Stuart Ross, and Daniel Jones. Connolly's first collection, Asphalt Cigar (Coach House, 1995), was nominated for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry and he was one of six writers featured in Blues and True Concussions (House of Anansi, 1996), an anthology of new Toronto poets. Since 1997, he’s been a regular contributor to eye Weekly, where he served as theatre critic.
Published: April 2002
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.