Review of Pigeon

Karen Solie, a native of Saskatchewan now living in Toronto, is considered one of Canada’s best poets. Her first collection, Short Haul Engine (2001), won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize, among other awards and accolades. More recently, her third collection, Pigeon (2009), continues to maintain a basis in environmental poetry, addressing ways humans inhabit and overuse natural environments. The most significant feature of Solie’s writing is her mode of blending wry irony, satire, and humor with concerns and anxiety about environmental damage, emphasizing that to many people Nature remains merely a resource to be exploited—raw material for human ambitions.

The poet revels in ironic opulence. The subtle meanings she assigns to beloved places in Alberta are associated with environmental degradation, urban sprawl, and toxic pollutants. “Four Factories” and many other poems in her collection, such as “Tractor,” “Medicine Hat Calgary One-Way,” and “Parasitology,” promote a more sustainable and satisfying relationship with the natural world, not only on the individual, but on a communal basis.