A Very Special Episode
112 pages | ISBN 978-1-928088-94-3
nathan dueck thinks really hard about pop culture. In his new collection, A Very Special Episode, he pays serious attention to the pieces of our past that have been lost in the internet era, whether it is magnetic tapes or the Smurfs, rabbit-ear antennas or She-Ra. A child of the '80s dueck plays with the past and with our ideas of a poetry canon. In these playfully challenging recreations we find Mr. T in The Waste Land and a selection of sonnets – one for every letter of the alphabet – on topics from the Care Bears to Zoobilee Zoo. This is a smart, entertaining and ultimately questioning collection, one that asks us to consider how our ideas are shaped by the cultures surrounding us.
“Television was a childhood companion for many of us, and the loving, sometimes complicated, investment we put into those characters comes through in A Very Special Episode. dueck plays with formal construction and forms that allude specifically and often hilariously to poems from the canon. But these poems are about cartoons and wrestling and commercials and Care Bears. Attuned to the specific relevance, joy and pervasiveness of the pop culture that is our culture this collection shows us the ways these trademarks are imprinted on us, are a part of home. As a result we must ask ourselves what it means. Laughs! Games! Serious contemplation! This collection has it all. This book is a delight.”
– Dina Del Bucchia, author of It’s a Big Deal!
“Language is a cult. Pop culture is a language. And here dueck is a cult-leading pop-culture language mixmaster, fashioning poems bright as TV, casting strange and true shadows over our real and hyperreal bodies, illuminating our world with its uncanny undulations and strange flashes. He knows that life is the ultimate in binge-watching. So are our brains. dueck’s poems broadcast on all the channels at once, channelling and challenging with technical finesse and flash. He’s embedded himself in the broadband of the now, streaming his incisive and witty 5G reports from inside the contemporary ever-flickering dream machine, the motherboard of all our best and most notorious fantasies.”
– Gary Barwin, author No TV for Woodpeckers
“nathan dueck takes nostalgic faves like DuckTales, Pac-Man and the greatest invention of our time – the ThighMaster – and twist/turns them into playful works that slide off the tongue. Like looking at a time capsule of pop culture through a kaleidoscope, this book is a reminder that poetry can be fun like Saturday morning cartoons.”
– Daniel Zomparelli, author of Everything Is Awful and You're a Terrible Person
Pop culture, nostalgia shimmer in verse (Johnathan Ball, Winnipeg Free Press, 28/12/2019)
"Dueck's [collection] takes pop-culture and television nostalgia to the next level by offering careful, complexly crafted creations that seek to splice Saturday morning camp together with musical meter."
nathan dueck, A Very Special Episode (rob mclennan, rob mclennan's blog, 21/12/2019)
"The collection is wonderfully produced, designed to mimic the classic TV Guide, and dueck engages with numerous, familiar tropes, from the title itself to references that might not be so obvious."
Don't Adjust Your Antenna: nathan dueck Channels a Pop Culture Obsession Into Poetry in His New Collection (Open Book, 15/01/2020)
"The trick was to find rhymes so close to the originals that my parents wouldn't notice when I sang, e.g., 'Almond Joy, how sweet the Mounds' to the tune of 'Amazing Grace.'"
Beautiful Books: A Very Special Episode (All Lit Up, 06/02/2020)
Jared Shapiro talks about designing nathan's beautiful book!
Works from Canadian poets feature odes to everything from Nova Scotia to 1980s nerd culture (Barb Carey, the Toronto Star, 10/01/2020)
"The poet takes the form and syntactic pattern of well-known poems by writers such as Yeats, Auden and Dickinson, and mischievously adapts them to subjects ranging from game shows to sci-fi series."
A 'best of' list of 2019 Canadian poetry books (rob mclennan, DUSIE, 01/01/2020)
nathan's collection makes rob mclennan's list of best Canadian poetry of 2019.
COTR instructor Nathan Dueck launches third book (Paul Rodgers, Cranbrook Daily Townsman, 15/10/2019)
"I wasn't a good student, so the TV was always on when I was doing homework. I wanted the book to feel a little like that."
Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Poetry Preview (49th Shelf, 05/08/2019)
nathan's collection is listed as one of 49th Shelf's most anticipated.
About the Author
nathan dueck's middle name is russel, which means his initials spell "nrd." His folks tell him that nobody used that word when he was born, but dictionaries say otherwise. He is the author of king's(mère) (Turnstone Press) and he'll (Pedlar Press). Born in Winnipeg, he completed his PhD at the University of Calgary and now lives in Cranbrook, BC, where he is a creative writing and English instructor at the College of the Rockies.