James Pollock's first book of poems, Sailing to Babylon (Able Muse Press, 2012), is shortlisted for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award in Poetry and runner-up for the Posner Poetry Book Award. His book You Are Here: Essays on the Art of Poetry in Canada (The Porcupine's Quill, 2012), is a finalist for the 2013 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Visit his Web site
"The sentence, in James Pollock's remarkably assured debut volume, is a unit of music and of time, a carefully modulated choreography that moves the reader through an elegantly constructed set of meditations on place and history and the education of the self—a self we come to know, in part, through the poet’s evocation of a rich company of tutelary spirits: Glenn Gould and Northrop Frye, Henry Hudson and C. P. Cavafy. Quietly confident, formally adept, assured in their music, these artful lyrics are not only an accomplishment in themselves but promise to register, as the poet says, 'the breaking changes of a life to come'."
— Mark Doty, Judge's Citation, Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist
"... as well-traveled as it is and by such titanic talents [as Edwin Arlington Robinson, Edward Thomas, and Robert Frost], new discoveries in the plain style are less likely, and less frequent. And that's why James Pollock's debut, Sailing to Babylon... is such a noteworthy book... [I]n Pollock's unadorned style, forged as it is in traditional forms... we get a vision of an old world, freighted with history, and still able to astonish itself with the novelty of its recurrence."
— Michael Lista, The National Post
"[The poems in Sailing to Babylon] engage the reader openly, generously, inviting us to notice how the details observed, the emotions evoked, the subtle (or noisy) repetitions of words and phrases, the precisely constructed lines and stanzas, the sophisticated prosody, work together with a rich and complex array of subjects and allusions to provide both pleasure and challenge."
— Thomas Dillingham, Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing
" ... in Sailing to Babylon, the formalism - the regular stanza patterns, sonnets, and the long poem in terza rima - prepares you to think about the fine line between an advanced knowledge of the rules of traditional poetic form and a mastery of the subtleties of traditional poetics. When a poet deploys tradition gracefully, as James Pollock has, the pleasure in the poems also renews my affection for tradition."
— Chris Jennings, Arc Poetry Magazine
"Overall the [long] poem ["Quarry Park"] is, frankly, a masterpiece; if I were compiling today an anthology of Canadian poetry from its beginnings, it would doubtless make the cut. For not only does it constitute a significant formal achievement, but it takes the prominent Canadian genre of 'nature poem' to new heights, meditating on aspects of flora, fauna, and landscape formation with a level of detail and engagement with both the scientific and folkloric aspects of natural history that can only be attained through years of intimate observation."
— Stewart Cole, The Urge
Able Muse Press