Stalin's Carnival
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Stalin’s Carnival

“Hearing the vibrancy and veering turns and wind-sprint syntax in these poems lit me up long before I'd begun to think through their thematic worries… This collection has ambition, crisis, honesty, music, heart-break, and beauty all placing the human voice under a severe strain, and the voice is up to it.”
—Ken Babstock, from his introduction

Stalin's Carnival, poetry, published in Canada by Quarry Press, 1989
• Re-issued by Palimpsest Press in May 2013

Winner of the Gerald Lampert Award, for best first poetry collection, 1990

“A forgotten ur-text to so much of what Canadian poetry has become in the intervening quarter century since its publication… It would take another 25 years for Canadian poetry to catch up to the ambitious synthesis of sonic lushness and thematic unity that Heighton achieved in his first book.”
—Michael Lista, The National Post   READ THE FULL REVIEW →

“Heighton's debut is as good a book as the Lampert Award has ever honoured … Heighton's legacy… is that of the sound technician in Canadian poetry, the fellow who tweaked the dial of Canadian poetry to the consonantal, arrhythmic, and internally-rhymed.” —Shane Neilson, Lemonhound   READ THE FULL REVIEW →

“In Stalin's Carnival and The Ecstasy of Skeptics, Steven Heighton introduced a new basis into Canadian poetry: an approach to traditional formal rigour that was entirely original and personal. It became the seed of what in the new Canadian poetry is most truly experimental and restlessly seeking.” —A.F. Moritz

Stalin's Carnival is a collection of very powerful poems.” —Irving Layton

“An impressive debut… exciting and exotic… [shows] a beautiful attentiveness to cadence and line break.” —Arc

“Thoughtful as well as exhilarating… A polished first book… possessing a maturity of voice and technique.” —Carolyn Smart, Kingston Whig-Standard

“Powerful poems… [serving] notice that the 90's may very well see a fusion of the classic and the hip. Echoes of modern British poets are audible in his work but his rhythms and images are all his own.” —George Eliott Clarke, Halifax Daily News

“Heighton is an ambitious and very accomplished writer, and his next collection should make that even more obvious.” —Maurice Mierau, Books in Canada

“A promising first collection… Heighton's fusion of the vengeful voice of the peasant poet and the totalitarian tyrant [Stalin] is powerful and disturbing.” —Ottawa Citizen