Wednesday, 26 December 2012

In the Garden of Pseudoeden

Pseudoeden: a Contemporary Utopia by Gregory Wm. Gunn, Lulu Press, 2012

No one can accuse London, Ontario poet Gregory Gunn of using cut-up prose in lieu of proper poetic form. On the contrary, Gunn is an unabashed new formalist, infusing his work with cadence, accent, alliteration and even the use of rhyme where it’s called for. But it’s his use of language – it its formality and complexity – that enables his words to transcend the ordinary.

Pseudoeden: a Contemporary Utopia, is Gregory Wm. Gunn’s seventh collection of verse and the themes he’s been known to scribe – namely love in its multiple facets, the splendour and intricacies of nature, and some stinging social commentary are all included in this latest volume. But it is his gift of rendering the natural realms that Gunn is at his clearest, his best:

Quintessential Balance

From out the loam the marigold
Assiduously, so patiently
Allows the necessary time,
And morning-glory from the mould
Inhales sweet breaths elatedly
To spend proud hours in their prime:
Displaying flowers’ beauty creed,
Then fade away unselfishly;
For cognisant that in their seed
Lies balancing Eternity:
Offspring to immortality.

Gunn’s style has, from his early days as a ‘zine poet, marginalized his work within the greater CanLit collective. He is one of several Southwestern Ontario versifiers infused with the blood of the masters and hence his poems are usually found only in underground, under-the-radar publications. Not to let this permanently deter him, he continues to forge his own voice as his is no echo or mimicry but rather a decades-long blossoming of craft and wordsmithing.

Gardening is listed as one of his interests and activities and it is from this that his most memorable offerings come to fruition. Take his poem, “Resettlement” – he could have taken a much easier, lazier route to speak of weeding, transplanting and beautification and yet the work that he puts on the page mirrors the efforts he undertakes in his backyard:


Consider any site – these private grounds
may serve the purpose satisfactorily
where gardener with implements prepares
to wrestle weeds and stand a rising ardour,
vindication for some, lifeless for me;
submissive the spectre, spent inferno the man.

Mull over any time – an October day
will do quite adequately, ripened fruit,
untried withdrawing wings, the moment
when I, whom during formative years advanced
toward insouciant amplitudes hunched down
to pluck decaying yields from yellowing grass.

And subsequently I, the subsidiary,
possessing a gone astray mentality,
the diamond lost, in a rhombic ruin of time,
the desert for whom all expanse is coral reef –
to track down, discern, suspend this strand in hand,
unravel myself from out a propagated past.

Gregory Wm. Gunn looks deeply into the terrestrial and the celestial, and as a result he also finds the frailties of the human heart whenever the observer becomes the observed. For the accumulation of discovery is tempered with an equally arduous quest for lasting love, which, for the poet, seems to be far more difficult to find. Pseudoeden will, for the reader, be a challenging trek that demands a mindful, slow-paced read, for “the mystery of many darkest nights / is in the beauty of the visions.”

One of the bonus treats of this release is the inclusion of the Gunnian classic, “I Came to Love,” which had made its initial mark in an old issue of Afterthoughts, and which served as a harbinger of future excellence to come. While some may dismiss love poems as “sentimental,” Gunn weaves his without excessive sugar or cliché, and romantics will be rewarded upon their reading. The title poem’s closure may best encapsulate both the poet’s technique and his search for the everlasting:
“There’s a heraldry in all unseen, a crystalline / stream whereby we dream, spring forth, / and bloom forever woven on Eternity’s loom.”

-- Andreas Gripp

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Friday, 30 November 2012

Small Hallows is No Small Feat

Small Hallows
By Gabriel Wainio-Théberge, Published by Baseline Press, 2012

Several weeks back, I was fortunate to enjoy Baseline Press’ Chapbook Launch and Readings at Organic Works here in London. Baseline Press, in its second year of operation, is the project of London poet and current Managing Director of Poetry London, Karen Schindler, featuring beautifully fashioned, hand-bound chapbooks reminding us of the unmatched experience that a tangible, tactile book can bring and that will always remain unmatched by e-books and e-readers.

One of three new titles published by Karen’s imprint this fall is the debut of Gabriel Wainio-Théberge, who had a bit of a bumpy go with the start of his live reading, perhaps, but soon settled down to render his poems in a clear, engaging manner. And now, going through this succinct collection a second time, I wanted to share some highlights and give a little plug for a very young (just graduated high school within the past year) and very capable, rising poet.

Birds, always a favourite of mine, are cited early and often, both in the preface quotation from a Ted Hughes poem and then in the opener, First Raven, where the setting is conveyed with all the serenity that one would find in a painting or pastoral piece of music.

One of the birds in The Event is seen with “a white petal caught between its feathers, / the pads of its claw-toes clutching at nothing, / bright lice still moving over its wings” – describing the exhaustive calm after a chase, and the author’s skill at relaying images that resonate is easily admirable from the onset.

About the prospect of writing on the impending autumn, the poet asks “Will the words / curl up and go brown at the edges, / fall like yellow leaves to the ground / while the trees are still green ...” and later “smoulder, die / and not be transfigured?” (Chronicle I). The poem’s sequel shares some rather unique visions of the continual autumnal theme, where “the cold is a bright and eager schoolboy, / And soon will grow glum and sink in clouded spirals.” And about the wind, “His business is stirring dust, a quarrelsome historian” while “Dust-motes are the flies of autumn.” Walking in this setting, the author, “blindfolded by thoughts” (which usually make us miss the wonder of the present moment), ponders “how I anticipated a single day / In order to understand a season.”

Chronicle 2 closes with 3 footnotes in smaller font which are not mere explanatory as one might expect, though they do just that without the direct intent, but glorious poetic lines where “Wind is a workman-poet, and industrial balladeer,” silent when sprightly as “His frequencies go over the heads of the rooftops. / In some places butterflies are omens.” The giant pine, in the 3rd footnote, “drops its needles / year after year, like skeletal fruit / between the driveway and the window.”

The tender, moving burial of a bird occurs in Anyone want to say a few words, with its riveting prelude opener “’Still’ is not stopped. It is slow, not timeless. / It can rise and fall, like a sleeper’s chest, / like waves on the sea’s sleeping side.”

At the reading, Gabriel spoke a bit about the construction of Wndryn, and when read in its eight couplets on the page, the reader is rewarded as “The asphalt sweats out its heart. A clod of cold / slips down its road throat. Something moves.”

A grandfather’s ashes are placed into paper boats in Disappearance, and the poet’s descriptive prowess serves to bring the earthen to the heavenly; the terrestrial metaphor to a celestial feast of nebulae and light awaiting rebirth. Geology too comes to call in “cliffs / scraped bare of moss by floods, / slopes swallowed in older explosions, / strata like slanting stacks of books.”

The third of three Chronicle entries  serves as the penultimate piece, and the poet, still immersed in the fall, acknowledges that “every season will be shrouded / in not knowing / whether it was worth it” and concludes, by the poem’s end, that “the ambiguous music of the shroud, / the predictability of white skies / and crows” are best left to be what they are and as they are, to be dusted with the translucent snow that brings this brief but wistfully cerebral collection to a close in the chapbook’s final offering.

The poet is clearly well-studied on both the intricacies of nature and the crafting of verse – I felt enlightened on both thanks to Mr. Wainio-Théberge and look forward to seeing how far his gifts will take him.

– Andreas Gripp

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Brick and Bruck Prove that CanLit Can Get it Right

Monkey Ranch by Julie Bruck, published by Brick Books, 2012

I’ve had Julie Bruck’s Monkey Ranch in my possession for a while now, and having been struck by her earlier work years ago, I’d hoped to write about her latest collection of poems a few months ago. In the past week that I’ve finally gotten around to it, Julie Bruck has won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry for this book, so I imagine it’s not necessary for me to tell my potential readers of this blog how good it is – nevertheless, I’d like to finish what I’d been hoping to get done.

Presented in five segments (and yet working easily as a whole), Monkey Ranch begins with This Morning, After an Execution at San Quentin. The famous island prison site, located in the San Francisco bay area, directly plays a role in only a single line, where it is casting “its sharp light.”

The poem is more about the narrator’s daughter transfixed by a “singing monkey,” as she calls it, witnessed earlier in the day at the zoo. The fact that the poem is focused on the child’s mantra of such, briefly touching upon the author’s husband recovering from illness, underlines the understatement that serves as the foundation for this poem and which thunders from its title and yet barely makes a whisper – saying far more with nothing than it could ever hope to in a didactic eulogy.

This effective style is revisited in At the Music Concourse, where the aftermath of a stranger’s suicide is described only in morning-after Tai Chi, coffee-drinking police officers, a dog in the park and a potted ginkgo, “its little fans the hammered gold / they turn at the cusp of winter – / trembling, though there is no wind.”

The author concludes the opening section with The Change, and sounds eager for some sort of spiritual self-improvement,  “even if I stop short / at crystals and meet-the-plankton music.” She struggles with her battle to not hate or desire to kill the mouse that darts across her kitchen floor, vowing to set it free in the park after capture if a humane trap works – “I’ll be better than I am, / pretend to love / this creature I’d rather drown.”

In the second section, there is the pure poetry of “What gives this day such perfect pitch, / a held note against the usual desolations?” in Gold Coin, with its sights and sounds of Chinatown. From San Francisco, Bruck’s hometown of Montreal appears in the flashback of The Trick, with its mix of childhood fun and tragedy. Montreal again in Entre Chien et Loup, with its fascinating, enthralling insight into the fall of a marriage conveyed through her mother’s painstaking efforts to dress for a party while a father and husband fumes with impatience. The descriptions are vivid, clear and memorable. Its ending, glorious in metaphor.

The less-is-more comes back to the page of A School Night in February (section III), where the deceptive normalcy of evening will soon be replaced by a mass shooting in a school, and the fact that the whys are left unsaid makes the poem speak louder with its lights left on for “ ... someone / who must have been inexplicably delayed.”

Bruck is the master of both the ordinary and the extraordinary, which are simultaneously found in a vagrant’s blanket, “which gives him the weight of a weathered sage. / Or would, if we could stand to look at him / the way our children do, when they’re still / too young to strip the world of miracles.” (Section IV’s Cold Cases, Adult Division).

Parental disconnect is evident in Girl in the Yellow Cardigan (a mother’s insistence on her daughter’s use of an outmoded lunch container in the schoolyard) and in My Father’s Clothes, where the paternal parent is unaccustomed and unable to offer suitable affectionate touch. Bruck’s narrative role flows seamlessly from that of daughter to one of mother in these vignettes of verse that span three generations, seen most effectively in Ocean Ridge, where her daughter’s ear reveals “delicate runnels and inlets / shaped as if by water.”

References to the animal world, while most obvious in the title poem and in Great White, Released (Section V), also peek through as “complete stamps from Borneo with wax-paper / hinges frail as insect wings” in Girl in Her Brothers’ Bedrooms and during Barack Obama’s first presidential victory relived in Election Night with Dog.

Dead Air, toward the end, gives the kind of acute vision to an auditory event that crowns so many of Julie Bruck’s poems in this collection. Read with one sense and you’ll have the other four absorb the penetrating beauty residing throughout this splendid offering.

– Andreas Gripp

Monday, 5 November 2012

Video clip from new London poetry reading series

Here is the final poem from my featured reading set from October's London Open Mic Poetry Night at Mykanos Restaurant, a new one called "Columbia, 33 1/3" ...

Monday, 15 October 2012

For Malala, shortly after the shooting

I will not imagine you
in bed, your head
bandaged, a machine
to help you breathe –

I’ll hear instead
your unaided breath
in all the recitations,
of scripts of alphabet,

in the study of a cell
and the poems of Pakistan –

and more than simply sound,
I’ll see you stand once more,
unafraid, unhindered,
amid the seas of every girl
who writes in chalk
and pencil crayon,
then pen and type of keys,

in the bloom of every woman
invoking your name
and kindred spirit,

saying I will surely learn
and make our land and people better,
mend our many wounds,
search the clues for cures
for all that ails us;
become the first, at last,
to find them.

Andreas Gripp

Monday, 3 September 2012

100,000 Poets for Change

Saturday, September 29th marks the global event 100,000 Poets for Change, happening in communities large and small around the world. Here is the link to the official website:

The melding of poetry and social justice has a long history -- particularly in countries where oppression, war, and inequality have existed. In order for poetry to remain relevant, it needs to continue to address current affairs and the opportunities we all have to participate in personal and global healing.

Here in London, Ontario, the local 100,000 Poets for Change event will take place from 2:00 to 4:00pm on the 29th of September at the Landon Branch of the London Public Library, 167 Wortley Rd. There will be a generous helping of local writers of verse sharing poems on social/political/personal change as well as poems for peace. Those scheduled to participate are Gay Allison, Frank Beltrano, Patricia Black, Stan Burfield, Jennifer Chesnut, C.L. Connel, Susan Downe, Debra Franke, Andreas Gripp, Louisa Howerow, Ellen S. Jaffe, Penn Kemp, Tom Legge, Tanis MacDonald, Janice M. McDonald, Zahra McDoom, Bryton McKinnon, Marianne Micros, Kathryn Mockler, Jennifer Moore, Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy, Ola Nowosad, Holly Painter, R.L. Raymond, Jan Stewart, Ron Stewart, Christine Thorpe, and Elizabeth Waterston. Music by Robert McMaster and Jennifer White. Admission is Free.

The London event is part of the weekend-long "Culture Days" Festival happening from Friday, September 28th through Sunday, September 30th. Supported by the London Arts Council.

For a complete list of London Culture Days events and activities, please visit

Friday, 17 August 2012

Hearing Ted Hughes at Plunkenworth’s

Our friend dropped in again,
the one who always says
he's met some rather famous poets,
like Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney,
Mary Oliver,
boasting he's taken them out for beer,
that in their drunken state
they've read his work
and said it was the best damn thing
they've ever seen on paper.

It's been difficult to prove him a liar,
authors and their tours
have coincided with his claims
but this time he was sloppy,
saying he'd heard Ted Hughes
last night, at Plunkenworth's,
the run-down, downtown gallery
that exhibits skateboard
art and molds of vomit
by its barely-on-its-hinges
front door.

He's been dead for over a decade,
we said, snickering, knowing we finally
found the lie,
that he'd admit it's been a charade,
the name-dropping, the tales
of autographed books
(that we've never been allowed
to see).

But he didn't blink an eye,
unfazed, undaunted in his delivery,
saying that Ted had read
a dozen new poems,
one about Plath,
how he would have rushed
to save her,
turn off the oven,
inhaled the toxic fumes
if he only could,
calling it "Sylvie's Stove"
and we corrected him,
saying it was Sylvia, not Sylvie
and he said no,
that was an affectionate name
he had for her, very French
as he really loved the language,

that he'd come back from the grave
just to read it,

even if but a single person
listened, believed
that he was sorry,

that the dead
could be so sorry.

Andreas Gripp

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

London Open Mic Poetry Night

Local poet Stan Burfield and friends have recently announced a new reading series to commence this fall here in London, Ontario. This will be a more accessible series than what's available for aspiring participants and fills the need here in town for "ordinary poets" to have a public place to share their work. London is already serviced with a successful, dedicated CanLit series of award-winning, national poets stopping by on tour, and with an extremely popular Poetry Slam series, but for years has not had a regular, monthly event where LONDON versifiers can have an audience to hear them read. The series is slated to occur on the last Thursday of the month at a venue to be announced. Each month will have a featured poet and then a generous open mic portion -- great news for all who want to see poetry thrive in the Forest City.

Check out their Facebook Page if you get the chance ...

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Katherine L. Gordon's Review of Garden Sunrise

Review by Katherine L. Gordon, poet, publisher & literary reviewer:

Garden Sunrise
By Andreas Gripp
Harmonia Press, London, Ontario.
21 pages, $5.00  ISBN: 978-0-9865996-6-8
available from

With a cover like a stained-glass mosaic, lucid with sun and leaves, Andreas Gripp preserves a “Garden Sunrise” for us as a talisman of the sweets of summer, to hold for all seasons.

This is a gentle balm of verses, no prophecies or edicts, no commentaries on our frail condition, just a lovely flow of sweet green visions to comfort us as a gentle summer rain, to wash away all care and leave us with grassy barefoot dreams, “a mirroring of Sol, / its orb and crown / of calm.”

Here is a union with all earthling friends of the garden, all the visiting birds and small creatures who decorate the shrubs and path with their gentle presence. Andreas Gripp has posed a question we must all wonder at times: bird song in the morning may be serious chatter – he calms and compliments them with a Bach symphony “to brighten their day in a break from breakfast gossip” in his wistful, whimsical poem Garden Sunrise.

For the day I bring you is a love poem born of dreams and longing, a planned path adorned to court a lady who may appear during “its blossoming into more.”

Those who dream or dwell in summer gardens will love the grace and beauty of this sojourn. Language, verse and image flow gently as a quiet stream of the season, allowing us “their beloved fruit / they’ve held so tightly.”

Pack it in your summer picnic bag, carry it through the colours of autumn, it will light your winter hours with remembered whispers of idyllic moments.

Katherine L. Gordon, Summer 2012.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Write a love psalm to the Goddess,
and watch how fast
they damn you.
Say God’s not bound
to gender,
and anathema will be
your name.
Say our blood
shares the warmth
of the shrew’s,
that foxes, elephants, weep,
that a chimp
isn’t guessing
when it’s right,
and to outer darkness
you’re cast.

Tell them that a Book
is only a book,
that saying so
doesn’t belittle
its worth,
that truth is fluid,
never carved
on slabs of stone.
They’ll bar you
from gates of pearls,
assign them a flaming

Now, in a whisper,
tell the woman you adore
she’s more beautiful
than the angels;
that the path of dirt
you walked on, together,
far better than roads of gold.
That if she’ll spend
a starry night
in your waiting-to-embrace-her
she may even love you back.
She may even let you kiss her.
She may even lie on the bed,
in eternal, restful pose,
allowing you to paint her,
or better still, to write a poem of her,
and of you and your misplaced gods;

and she might also watch and laugh
as you fold it in an envelope,
for mailing to a
one who surely knows
to never print such dross
and drivel;
and she’ll hope you come to your
senses, take it out
before it’s stamped,

and turn it into a plane
you can sail
in a summer’s day,

a wind from the west
to whisk it on a journey
more pleasant, meaningful,
less stressful for your mind,

never having to worry
where it lands.

Andreas Gripp

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Poetry in Point Edward

The Ontario Poetry Society is holding its annual Southwestern Ontario Summer event at the Bridge Tavern, 109 Michigan Ave., in Point Edward, Ontario (right by Sarnia), on Sunday June 24th beginning at 12:00pm. I will be one of the many readers and I'll be sharing poems from my latest book The Apostasy of Daylight which will be available for sale and signing. In addition, all of the readers will read poems by the late Sarnia poet & artist Peggy Fletcher (or poems about her) as part of a tribute to this kind, dearly missed person. Hope you can make it if you're in the area.

Above photo of Peggy Fletcher reading in Hamilton, Ontario in 2011. Photo by Wilma Seville.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Stella Mazur Preda's Fourth Dimension

Serengeti Press is releasing Stella Mazur Preda's new collection of poems, The Fourth Dimension, on Sunday, June 24th, 2:00pm, at The First Unitarian Church in Hamilton, 170 Dundurn Street South. Stella will be reading from the book and there will be refreshments -- admission is free.

Here is my capsule write-up which will appear on the back jacket:

Stella Mazur Preda bridges the phantom chasm to The Fourth Dimension – and in it the reader meets the author’s penchant for colourful description and scenes enhanced with multiple metaphors. The images from the natural world and the thoughts conveyed by the human narrative are rich, relentless and rewarding. Emanating vibrancy that is always accessible, the poems in this long-awaited collection are loaded with lines that convey the author’s literary craftsmanship and her experience with the subjects about which she writes. A poet attuned to the sounds and sights of her world – and ours.

from The Fourth Dimension:

Flavours of Autumn

Phantom Harvest Moon lurks over the horizon.
Breath of early frost wakes the morning.
Sunflowers bow heads in reverence.
Where cucumbers and beans had blanketed fields,
pumpkins wink mischievously beneath the vines.
Cornstalks, once heavily weighted,
now replenish the sustaining earth.
Fall winds tumble through branches -- shower
Mother Earth with jewels of red, orange and gold;
invoke the deities to accept these gifts,
and surrender to the Autumnal Equinox.

-- Stella Mazur Preda

Sunday, 10 June 2012

As Spring Yields to Summer

I only see her when she’s out,
the woman across the way,
pushing her lawnmower
that has no engine,
the grating of squeaky wheels,
its whirling, rusty blades,
the sound of a hundred haircuts.
A fumeless, slicing symphony,
the grass wafting fresh
and green.

Day and night
through my windowsill
and all is
as it should be:

cat eyes narrow to slits
at the first burst of light,
squirrels play tag,
bumblebees collect, send static
through the afternoon,

dogs howl at three-quarter moons
and backyard Copernicans
at the shadows on lunar scars.

A couple kiss and rock
on gently swinging seats,
embrace, sigh into sleep,
and dawn comes back again,
announced by startled yawns
and singing larks.

As Spring yields to Summer,
tulips slump head-first,
vibrancy fades, reds go rose,
goldenrod yellows,
joining the ordinary
around us.

There’s my neighbour
riding his bicycle, narrowly missed
by a milk truck,
Ms. April May receiving delivery,
twice weekly, half a quart,
that, and measurements
long thought dead
still heaving
their penultimate breath.

Andreas Gripp

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Poetry in Motion 2012

News from The London Arts Council & London's Poet Laureate: The poets for the 2012 Poetry in Motion project have been selected and poems from the following contributors will be featured on city buses here in London, Ontario: Gloria Alvernaz Mulcahy, Lindsey Bannister, Frank Beltrano,
Patricia Black, Carrie Connel, Susan Downe, Tom Cull, Debra Franke, Andreas Gripp, Gaetan LaBelle, Tom Legge, Ola Nowosad, Rob Paynter, R L Raymond, Colleen Thibaudeau, & Deborah Windell.

Curator of the project and Poet Laureate Penn Kemp said, in judging poems for Poetry in Motion, "I was delighted by both the quality and quantity of the submissions, and by their variety. Congratulations to all. The poems chosen are the ones I think to be the most appropriate for LTC. So many are actual bus poems!" Penn was also invited to include one of her poems for Poetry in Motion. This is the second consecutive year that Penn and the LAC have undertaken this initiative.

Each poem will have three display cards within London Transit Commission buses from June 2012-13. The anthology of poems will also be posted on


Below is my contribution to this project, a re-visiting of an old love poem ...

Unsinkable, at the Centennial

If my love cannot sink
in your sea of splintered floe,
then history does not repeat itself:

for this Titanic won’t be breached,
nor torn and split in two,
and the jagged white ahead   
is merely a piece of floating ice
no match for Her Majesty’s
finest vessel.

Andreas Gripp

Monday, 21 May 2012

Salamander Cove: New Issue

Salamander Cove May 2012 Issue

The new issue of Salamander Cove, put together by Annie Wyndham, is available for reading. Featuring poems by Patrick Lane, April Bulmer, and seven other poets (including myself). Also presenting some fine photos and artwork by a variety of artists. Give it a read if you'd like ...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Hamilton poet's upcoming book launch

Conrad DiDiodato, whose spontaneous, masterful, surreal, cerebral, exploding-with-images work has led him to be called "The Picasso of Poets" (Katherine L. Gordon), is launching his much-awaited collection of poems, Bridget Bird, at Puddicombe Estate: Farms & Winery located in Winona, Ontario at 1468 Hwy #8, on Sunday, June 17th, 2012, at 1:00pm. The book is published by Serengeti Press. This will be an opportunity to hear poetry as you haven't heard it presented before ...

Thursday, 10 May 2012

London Poet and Dentist Dies in Crash

London dentist (and poet) Chris Guiltinan died this morning (May 10th, 2012) when his car rolled over in a ditch off the 403 near Hamilton. He was married and the father of two sons and opened the Guiltinan Family Dentistry Clinic in 2007 [source: London Community News].

In 1998, while editor and publisher of Afterthoughts, a London-based poetry journal, I had the privilege of publishing a few of Chris’ poems, all the while wishing I’d see more of his work in the future. I imagine his professional and family life took up much of his time and so the poet part of his life never came to full fruition (at least as far as I know) – a taste of which you can read in the three poems below. His work was skillfully written and extremely impressive. These poems are taken from issues 13 & 14, which also featured, in either or both issues, poets and writers such as Ian Ayres, Beryl Baigent, Michael Bogue, Jason Dickson, Vic Elias, Katherine L. Gordon, John Grey, Gregory Wm. Gunn, Claire Litton, Stan Rogal, Kenneth Salzmann, K.V. Skene, Fredrick Zydek, K.A. Corlett, Louis Gallo, Susan McCaslin, Molly Peacock, and Al Purdy.

Skating on Summer’s Egg
by Chris Guiltinan

Though Winter spread south like spilled milk
(I still think
the snowflake Is more work
in terms of intricacy, in terms of sheer
Spring smoked the landscape like a cigarette
and Summer came
in with its changeable light.
If habit is the body’s vanity over and over,
then who is to say
which thing weighs most:
a leather jacket or the knife it conceals;
jewellery or starlight;
the moon or the blue wick it burns on?
You say the blade might be Yevtushenko.
I believe you.
But who is the Chinese kite, dear lady,
beneath which we make love?

On Spring Nights
by Chris Guiltinan

On Spring nights, hyacinths
stuff the dark air,
men think
black must be blue that went too far,
women know
and sit quietly wishing
the perfume meant something,
the bruised light meant something,
anything at all.

by Chris Guiltinan

Numbers are the crudest form of abundance,
The fingers and toes of keeping track.
When does enough
tip into too much,
want into need,
Heaven become mere happiness, carved
down from ecstasy, smaller
but less conditional?

Preserved in amber
the town I grew up in,
and the blood and the voice of a lifetime
the light; word finds its laser and enters
to be holy,
to bear witness,
to be the pencil
of your next move.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Vintage Wales in The Sundial

It’s classic book revisiting time for me, and I’m enjoying another go-around with Gillian Clarke’s The Sundial. Clarke, who was named National Poet of Wales (the equivalent of “Poet Laureate”) in 2008 and in 2010 received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry (not that these merits influence my evaluation of her work, as, in future blog entries, you’ll see awards and the like don’t pull me into a writer), has been blessing the world with her poetry capturing the air and essence of her native land for decades, and in The Sundial, her second collection that was published in 1978 by Gomer Press, every sound, scent, and sight of the Welsh countryside and shoreline is conveyed in a way that will make the reader feel that they’ve been walking alongside her as she jots down her observations and how her feelings intertwine.

Birth (by Gillian Clarke)

On the hottest, stillest day of the summer
A calf was born in a field
At Pant-y-Cetris; two buzzards
Measured the volume of the sky;
The hills brimmed with incoming
Night. In the long grass we could see
The cow, her sides heaving, a focus
Of restlessness in the complete calm,
Her calling at odds with silence.

The light flowed out leaving stars
And clarity. Hot and slippery, the scalding
Baby came, and the cow stood up, her cool
Flanks like white flowers in the dark.
We waited until the calf struggled
To stand, moved as though this
Were the first time. I could feel the soft sucking
Of the new-born, the tugging pleasure
Of bruised reordering, the signal
Of milk’s incoming tide, and satisfaction
Fall like a clean sheet around us.

Though much of the landscape and townsfolk may be unfamiliar territory to many, Gillian Clarke presents them in a manner brilliantly beautiful and gorgeously accessible. It may leave you craving more – both in terms of her work and a subsequent trip to the places which gave birth to these emotive verses. An exceptional way to spend part of the day (and at 55 pages and just over palm-sized, it’s not a laborious read by any means) – the Earl Grey, though optional, will add a nice touch when perusing.

Clywedog (by Gillian Clarke)

The people came out in pairs.
Old, most of them, holding their places
Close till the very last minute,
Even planting the beans as usual
That year, grown at last accustomed
To the pulse of the bulldozers.
High in those uphill gardens, scarlet
Beanflowers blazed hours after
The water rose in the throats of the farms.

Only the rooted things stayed:
The wasted hay, the drowned
Dog roses, the farms, their kitchens silted
With their own stones, hedges
And walls a thousand years old.
And the mountains, in a head-collar
Of flood, observe a desolation
They’d grown used to before the coming
Of the wall-makers. Language
Crumbles to wind and bird-call.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Book Launch & Reading

I will be launching my new book of poems, The Apostasy of Daylight, this Sunday evening (April 29th), 7pm, at Organic Works (bakery & cafe), 222 Wellington St. in London. I'll be reading from this collection and the book will be available for sale & signing, along with my other recent titles Ex gratia, Anathema, & Perennial.

Also sharing their poetry on this evening will be Monika Lee, author of Gravity Loves the Body and Slender Threads, and London poet Jennifer Moore. Admission is free. If you live in the London area, hope to see you :)

Organic Works -- 222 Wellington Street between Grey & Horton, London, Ontario, featuring organic food & teas ...

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


For Poetry Month and in tribute to the late poet Colleen Thibaudeau, this billboard is now up at the corner of Stanley St. and Wortley Rd. in London ...

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Poetry in the Reading Garden

An event announcement to share:

Celebrating National Poetry Month and as a farewell to London's First Poet Laureate, Penn Kemp

Poet Laureate and Friends: Penn Kemp, David Hickey, Cornelia Hoogland, Kathryn Mockler, and Karen Schindler. Thursday, April 26, 2012 from 7:00 to 8:30pm at Central London Public Library Rotary Reading Garden (or the adjacent Little Red Roaster if inclement weather), 251 Dundas Street, London. Poet Laureate Penn Kemp will also perform a special tribute and thank you to the late Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney honouring her significant contribution to the Literary Arts and London, Ontario. Free Admission.

The Rotary Reading Garden is a beautiful spot to hear poetry ...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

From Celtic Eyes

Always offering her unique perspective on nature and its inhabitants, as well as the invisible worlds to which her insight is attuned, Katherine L. Gordon's poetry is filled with images both empirical and incorporeal. Writing from the secluded Eramosa valley near Guelph, Ontario, hers are verses that fill the senses: the movement of waters and fallen leaves and the sounds that forest creatures make come to the pages of her books while fairies incognito are revealed to the eyes of even the most skeptical in her many books.

I'm currently re-reading What Lightning Brings, published by Cyclamens and Swords out of Israel in 2011 -- and it is a journey transcending present and past, the living and the dead. Her poem, Wheel and Rack, conveys her dualistic observations, of Canadian and of Celt, for readers fortunate to experience what she has in her bountiful abode.  

Wheel and Rack

A skirl of leaves
Septembered down the path
shaking out the August myth
of mellow summer stretching
into forever,
the trees sang requiem,
bowed rain-heavy heads
until a sailing sun soothed
with faceted sparkles
shining promise
of all things adventuring
before return,
light and dark mingling
on eternal rack.

                                                         -- by Katherine L. Gordon

Another favourite highlights Katherine's ability to say a great deal with an economical amount of words:

Awakening Birch

and from that slender birch
canoes will grow,
letters to lovers in the woods
will lace the generous bark
white heraldry on green canvas
as the summer birch stretches in the forest
while squirrels flash red and black
in leaps of joy.

                                                         -- by Katherine L. Gordon

The language throughout this volume, and the ones preceding it, are enchanting, vivid, and alive in a number of realms both seen and unseen.