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The Occupied World

The Occupied WorldPublished 2006 by the University of Alberta Press

ISBN:  0-88864-469-8

About this book

In ancient Roman times rituals were performed to sanctify the ground on which new cities were founded. With this invocation, space could then be occupied. This collection concerns human occupation: how we occupy cities; how we occupy ourselves as citizens, workers and thinkers; how we occupy mythologies and metaphors; and how we occupy the passage of our lives. Written largely in a public voice, these poems invoke human preoccupations that resonate through landscapes of time and space.

The sequence, Contemplating the City, which opens the book was the winner of the Malahat Review’s long poem contest. It takes the ancient Roman rituals of founding a town as the template for contemplating a new prairie city.

Experience a poem

Locate the site — performed with accompaniment by Nora Bumanis

Give the city its three names — performed with Nora Bumanis

River our bedrock — performed with Nora Bumanis

Text poem – A Slight Preponderance of Beauty

Text poem – I never thought I’d write a hockey poem


“Rich in assonance and alliteration, [Major] writes quietly observant poems that insist on the significance of ordinary human actions. Her work opens up the hidden depths of the everyday, and shows that nothing is truly commonplace.”

Joanne Epp, Prairie Fire Review of Books

“Alice Major, Edmonton’s first poet laureate, is one of Canada’s finest writers. Her creations have their genesis in a brilliant, encyclopedic, and inventive mind and are brought to fruition through meticulous craftsmanship. History, hagiography, geography, geology, physics, politics, mathematics, mythology, archaeology, the arts—certainly human relationships: there is little that sooner or later is not transformed by her verse.”

Neil Querengesser, Canadian Literature, Spring 2007

The Occupied World makes available to the reading public [Major’s] distinctive and accomplished verse . . .

-The Midwest Book Review, May 2007

“Among evocative descriptions of rivers and bridges, trees and oil wells, Major weaves images of pendulums, babies that might or might not be born and ‘borrowed days’, all suggesting a pause in time, a suspended moment in which something is decided. Such pauses feel somewhat ominous, like a warning birdcall in a seemingly safe forest. For carried within the poems is the reminder that we’ll ultimately get what we deserve from the decisions we make in carving our constructed world out of nature. Yet Major’s message, while steadfast, is communicated with a light touch.”

-Kristine Kowalchuk, Westworld, April 2007.

“So many troubling connotations to ‘occupations’! Major tackles the complex meaning of the word, and the result is a dark and thoughtful collection of poetry with equal tendencies toward pessimism and beauty. Heady stuff, indeed. Major’s first collection written as poet laureate for the City of Edmonton, The Occupied World is a far cry from civic boosterism. It might fairly be called the opposite: a sober voice calling for a more considered approach to the way we humans ‘occupy’ our world.

-Evan Osenton, Alberta Views, April 2007.

“Major, the city of Edmonton’s poet laureate, writes passionately and convincingly about the texture and heritage of the modern city. One of Major’s strengths is her striking use of imagery. … She also captures the variability of city life, from the endless theatrics of children to the somber rituals observed within a city’s limits.”

-Ian LeTourneau, Legacy, Spring 2007.

“…eloquently connects the public and private worlds of poetry.”

-Maurice Mierau, Winnipeg Free Press, Sun Nov 26 2006.

Buy a copy

Copies can be purchased through the University of Alberta Press.

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