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Fortified Castles
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Monday July 21, 2014 in Books

Fortified Castles

By ryan fitzpatrick

Starting with the lyric statement as a point of interrogation, Fortified Castles asks what might cause a retreat into the comforting walls of the self. North American culture is saturated with discourses of self-improvement and self-awareness at the same time it is full of anxiety over the things that separate us. Moving from a stock-ticker tableau of economic and environmental crisis to the difficulty of finding one another in the streets, the poems in Fortified Castles stage impasse after impasse, locating the Western subject between the ramparts it walks and the barricades it throws up.

Composed in three sections, Fortified Castles constructs a complex web of interpersonal disconnection from the anonymous detritus of our self-obsessed neoliberal moment. Written contemporaneously with the 2008 economic crisis, the first section, “21st Century Monsters,” imagines a number of world-ending scenarios from the collapse of the environment to the collapse of capitalism to the collapse of culture, forming a questioning and questionable primer on the things that terrify us. The second section, “Fortified Castles,” heavily recombines found material in a lengthy serial collage composed of multiplied and impersonal personal statements that add up in unanticipated ways, cascading in knee-jerk patterns of anxious hand-wringing and stubborn unreasonableness.

Written during the 2011 Occupy protests, the final section, “Friendship Is Magic,” positions the hopeful connections of that moment beside the privilege rippling through it, interrogating the very real tension between working collectively and living comfortably.

Read a poem from this collection on Meta-Talon.

ISBN 13: 9780889229099 | ISBN 10: 0889229090
5 W x 8.5 H inches | 112 pp pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Poetry
Paperback Edition


“…at turns whimsical, earnest, ironic, and confounding – often within the same poem. It’s a pleasure to wind through its twists and blind alleys.”
this magazine

“a strikingly balanced work … fitzpatrick writes from within ego-centric spheres, enraptured with selfies and branded personalities—indeed, our own fortified castles – to create paratactic lyric collages … Though at times the text seems to mock this culture, there is a strong undercurrent of hope. ”
Canadian Literature

“Darkly humorous and mockingly pedantic … Fitzpatrick also considers lyric poems themselves as fortifications, celebrating and safeguarding the sincere human voice. … Near the end, Fitzpatrick asks ‘How might we connect our cuffs?’—recognizing the ‘terrifying agency’ of sincerity – of meaning what we say – once we admit that we share grievances and complicities.”

“…a blend of Calgary’s language-poetics and Vancouver’s social and political engagements … Through[out] Fortified Castles, fitzpatrick utilizes a kind of collage/cut-up method of accumulation to engage elements of the Occupy Movement, confusion, social interactions, financial anxieties, political uncertainties, ambiguous sentences and an endless series of phrases, consequences and histories, managing to capture an enormous amount of activity in such compact spaces. … Given some of the subject matter the book explores, keeping the reader slightly off-balance might be entirely the point. Given some of the subject matter, it would seem strange to attempt to craft poems that didn’t unsettle. Perhaps we should be far more unsettled than we are.”
– rob mclennan’s blog

“In Fortified Castles, our hero shakes down identities like a spike-filled log mashes down the meadow. In the fervour of a squint, fitzpatrick rakes the way for a honky-tonk revolution in a felt square to sip tonics of swell emotions much more dangerous than motorcycles. Fortified Castles simmers a deft cauldron of trend patrol – able to frack Kodak moments into bankrupt selfies and drain histories into broken presents. With sunshine enough to fill lonely bottles, fitzpatrick shoots a friendly neighbourhood spitball that props us up at the door of a room we live, long for, and long to leave, oh so thankful for its lock.”
– Chris Ewart, author of Miss Lamp

“Fortified Castles is a book full of twists: a series of ambiguous manuals, a book-length personality quiz gone terribly awry. At first glance, characters seem self-assured – but don’t be fooled. Like Beckett’s talking heads, fitzpatrick’s playful voices point to a larger confusion. They look at us, baffled. They point and stare. They nod their heads and pat their stomachs. And then they ask, ever so politely: Who the hell are you?”
– Sandy Pool, author of Exploding into Night and Undark

About the Contributors

ryan fitzpatrick

ryan fitzpatrick is a poet and critic living in Vancouver. He is currently pursuing a PhD at Simon Fraser University, where he works on contemporary poetics and the social production of space.

Fortified Castles cover
Fortified Castles

ryan fitzpatrick

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