Reverse engineering the word, meme splicing, morpheme replacement therapy, phonetic modifications: these are some of the techniques in play throughout Reading the Bible Backwards, the lyrical thought experiments that make up this eagerly anticipated new collection of poems by Robert Priest. By throwing the Bible and other cultural narratives on the turntable and spinning them backwards, Priest unleashes surprisingly new but strangely familiar music and meaning. Whether the movements are sideways, inverted, or omni-directional, his satire has never been sharper – or darker. Ultimately, though, Priest’s lyric voice has never been more finely tuned or elegant, especially in the wonderfully groundbreaking "I Love You Forwards" poems that afford this book its remarkable balance.
"He is the voice of the people and the angels, entwined."
- Barbara Gowdy
"It's a long-playing anthem, a true protest to the ongoing, the ignored, the over watched as the work goes "beyond the cruel reach of resurrection" into the calm acceptance of a vast cyclical renewal. This is a sensational book."
- Nathaniel G. Moore, Broken Pencil
"He is certainly one of the most imaginatively inventive poets in the country...Though he cunningly and entertainingly makes use of the techniques of mass pop art, his work at its best transcends them and enters a world of a wider imagination, and a deeper socially critical commentary"
- Pacific Rim Review of Books
"The guiding thematic spirit of this entertaining collection may be backwardness, but it showcases a poet whose roving imagination is omni-directional."
- The Toronto Star
"Poetic templates Priest calls Meme Splices are used throughout the book to great effect and humour. . . . These clever exercises are not only amusing but can playfully upend the most contrived cultural sound byte, and invest it with new meaning. The poet also gives the funhouse treatment to numerous biblical narratives with irreverent glee. . . . Who knew living backwards could be so progressive?"
- Scene Magazine
The Milton Acorn Memorial People's Poetry Award, 1989
Special Choice Award, Children's Book Centre, 1993
Socan Airplay Award, 1994
Chalmer's Award, Theatre for Young Audiences, 1998
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