Friday, 20 December 2013

Friday, 8 November 2013

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Thursday, 17 October 2013

New Release: Women of the Cloth by April Bulmer




Women of the Cloth by April Bulmer
64/10 Series, No. 15, Black Moss Press, 2013.
64 pages, $10.00 
ISBN 978-0-88753-522-2


As expressed in its enigmatic cover illustration, April Bulmer’s Women of the Cloth isn’t limited to a singular manifestation of spirituality – there is the Pagan, the Native, the Christian – all interchanging in these poems free of the entrenchment of dogma and a limited concept of Deity. This will not surprise Bulmer’s regular array of readers as the Divine Feminine has been front and centre in several of her earlier volumes of verse, most recently in The Goddess Psalms (Serengeti Press, 2008). Here though, our traditional visions of God and Christ are in abundance as well.

Bulmer makes generous use of her metaphors: especially those of moon, root, and blood. The Host of Holy Communion also appears in several places as do the New and Old Testament symbols of fish and milk. The poet’s narrative is concise and cutting, and the myriad of named characters, those spiritual “women of the cloth,” interweave between seekers such as Native medicine women and Catholic nuns. Indeed, all of these people seeking peace and healing in the Sacred find a unity within the symbols which manifest again and again through this book’s four sections. There are also passages and poems more personal that the author has strategically laid and the reader is left with a feeling of shifting through episodes of time, place, and perspective in this erudite effort to grasp meaning from difficult and tragic life events. Nature’s knell and vibrancy serve as canvas from start to finish.

Of all the varied women whose vignettes make up this collection, I was most struck by the pair of poems scribed on behalf of this one in particular, which perhaps breaks somewhat from the more abrupt tone which precedes and follows, mostly because of their more intimate voice and lines which are given greater room to breathe:


Avril: The Face of the Deep

My father’s land
was swamp and soft.
And the pond
home to muskrat and carp.

I could not care for it
nor him, as his mind dimmed,
a slow pool, thick and listless.

Locked in a little ward
he paced like a snail
remembering the smell of the land,
how it clung to his shoes and fingernails.

I lost my father
and the land.
The blue heron,
he left me too.
His wings like soft pleats.

Sometimes I sleep,
whisper with mice and water snakes.
There is a barge
and Dad and I set sail.
Balanced for a time
on the face of the deep.
God moving us
from place to place –
over reeds and their seeds
and through dead leaves,
their veins.



Avril: Birdsong

My father’s pigeons:
dead in the long grass.
He forgot to feed them
or hold them –
like gloves in his hands.
The cage. Faces
grey as fading moons.

I loved my father,
though he is guilty.
My own heart
in its barbed wire.

He came again
this morning.
His wings a shade of blue.
Feathers blood and damp:
I stroked
his wild and broken plumes.


©2013 April Bulmer



The marriage of different spiritual traditions within a single volume is rather unique, and a fine example of Bulmer’s interest in Native ritual is evident in the following poem:


Wave Dancer: Beads

In the longhouse
I wear a mask carved like gull.
The braves bear my body in a canoe.
It is a dream-ritual.
But you are beyond
the banks of this sleep.

I want you:
my eyes are fish.
They desire the cave
that is your heart,
a stone temple.

Come, pad the soft plains
of the dream
in your suede shoes.
Wipe the perspiration
from my brow:
the beads embroidered
on the cloth
of my face.
Yes, in our vision quest,
a soft rag in your brown hand
you dab my forehead with grace.


©2013 April Bulmer



Finally, Bulmer’s roots in Christian study shine through in so many of these verses and present a spiritual writing where didactic thought will gratefully not be found. Here’s another favourite below where the feminine mimics the sacrifice of the Son of God:


Amy: Hail Mary

A canticle
in the Mary chapel.
Evensong:
the last rays of light.
My shadow.

You dream of the Virgin.
Lift her from the mule,
her perfect burden.

Perhaps I am as Magdalene:
disciple of the night.

Anoint my body
with milk.
Wash my feet.

I will spill my heart:
a cup of blood.
Offer my breast:
a loaf of wheat.


© 2013 April Bulmer


Women of the Cloth by April Bulmer is available directly from the author by emailing aprilb@golden.net and should be available soon for ordering through Black Moss Press:

http://blackmosspress.com


-- Andreas Gripp

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Friday, 11 October 2013

Video of October 2 2013 reading

Here's a segment of my reading last week at Mykonos during London Open Mic Poetry Night. The poems in the video are From the Guide to the New Apostasy, The Lesser Light, and Sing. Recorded by Erik Martinez Richards.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Monday, 30 September 2013

Video from my reading at the LOOK Festival


Below is a link to a YouTube video of me reading "Upon scribbling another poem on dying," the last of 6 poems that I read at last Saturday's LOOK Festival in London, Ontario on a beautiful day beneath the trees ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9-PDmvAyB8

I also read Woodlot, Autumn Green, Tree Hugger, The Sapling, and Initials just before the closing poem that was taped.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Friday, 20 September 2013

The Problem With Poetry




Being both a writer and reader, having been a publisher and having worked for decades in the retail end of the book trade, I’ve been exposed to all sides of the publishing industry. And yes, it’s an industry. And yes, even poetry has become an industry and has been for some time.

This doesn’t mean that its goal is to make boatloads of money. Poetry certainly does not: for the author, the publisher or the bookseller. But it’s an industry in that it’s controlled by an elite circle that holds a disproportionate amount of power and influence in how poetry is presented to the public and in how it’s sustained. Having been out-of-touch with the general populace for decades, poetry in Canada subsists through government arts funding – via the Canada Council, as well as a provincial body for administering money to book publishers (the Ontario Arts Council in the case of my own province), and, in the method applicable to literary magazines, through entry fees charged to poets who wish to enter the myriad of prestigious contests that the established periodicals constantly offer.

And here lies the long-standing issue I’ve had with the “poetry scene” in Canada: its emphasis on competition and its obsession with contests and awards – and the ego that comes along with them. Read any bio of a poet on tour, making a stop in your town, or the back jacket of their latest book, and it’s little more than a list of finalist and first-place finishes. The poet has won this award, and that one, made the shortlist for this prize, and that one. There’s scant mention, if any, about the actual poetry the author does – and that’s because the poetry itself has become secondary in importance. It doesn’t matter if the verses are ones that will resonate with readers, or listeners, or is even any good. What counts is that Poet X has been published in 57 literary magazines and has been nominated for 26 awards, winning a half-dozen times, providing the material needed for which to brag about over some pompous gala’s fondue. And of course, it doesn’t matter if Poet X even reads the periodicals he or she is published in – they’re merely stepping stones to achieving the publication of another volume of verse that’s entirely his or her own. 

So who reads these esteemed literary journals (in which being published is a requirement for having a book of poems released by what the CanLit clique deems a “recognized press”)? The general public? Hardly. Most of the readership are the poets and the aspirants who are   manipulated into signing up for a subscription via the aforementioned “contest fees.” Let’s face it, how else will these pretentious quarterlies obtain any hint of a readership? By making the purchasing of a year’s worth of issues a requirement for a writer to submit poems to a publication’s annual or semi-annual contest. And without a list of awards and honorable mentions to back up a poet’s curriculum vitae, then CanLit isn’t interested in publishing a person’s manuscript.

The defenders of the CanLit system will argue thus: “but without that recognition, without achieving national awards and publication in peer-reviewed journals, then most publishers in Canada will be unable to sell a poet’s book.” And why is that? Could it be because the poetry is irrelevant to the average reader, that it simply mimics the style that’s been embraced as the standard by an elite, academic, often Toronto-centric circle of adjudicators? That much of it is obscure, cut-up prose, has little semblance to the cadence and emotion of the past, when people bought up poetry books because the words and stanzas meant something to them?

Today, the books and authors that CanLit will espouse as “the voice of Canadian poetry” occupy little hovels in bookshop corners, being outsold by almost every literary genre imaginable. But that’s okay, because our publishers don’t need Jane and John Public to buy their books – they get most of their money courtesy of arts grants and contest fees. Literary publishers themselves freely admit that if it weren’t for the grants, they could not survive. They could not survive because people aren’t interested in reading the books they publish, and people aren’t interested in reading them because the poetry presented, for the most part, is indistinguishable from most of the other poetry books on the shelf, none of which are presented for the reader’s benefit, filled with poems that follow a tired formula of endless opacity, concluding with a “killer” line desperately yearning to sound more profound than it could ever hope to be.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of published poets (and by published, I refer to the guidelines set forth by the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and institutions such as the League of Canadian Poets) clearly appear to write their poems in order to impress:  editors, publishers, and contest/grant adjudicators. Without this triad, without these “keepers of the keys to the Kingdom,” poets cannot be published – really published, that is, as opposed to the independents or self-publishers whom they ignore, bar from their tier-driven organizations, and even downright disdain (and yes, there are, admittedly, heaps of equally narcissistic self-published poets worthy of such).  It’s here where the biggest problem with poetry today rests: this establishment of wine-and-cheese editors and the faithful, prolifically published disciples of versifiers ever-eager for that next photo-op available at the Toronto soiree of their choice.

I’m not necessarily saying that poets should never enter contests. Or hope to win awards. I’ve entered a few of both, when there isn’t some $35 fee that pretty well forces me to subscribe to a magazine I really don’t want to read. There are a few contests that are free (and of course, poets need to be aware that even some of the free ones, that promise publication in some hard-copy monstrosity, are exploitive in that if you want to see your work in print, then be prepared to shell out $75 or so to see it); and there are those with a very nominal monetary requirement that may be all well and good and whose administrators are not out to prey on poets. But overall, the Canadian landscape (and the American one, and the British one, etc.) is filled with calls to enter, dangling that carrot of success and achievement before the noses of the naive. “Who Says Rhyme Doesn’t Pay?” boomed the full-page ad in a national poetry journal, calling for contestants for its annual “Poem of the Year” award. I’ll say it doesn’t pay. Simply because this magazine won’t publish rhyming poems or any of the “doggerel” that its editors hope will pour in from seniors who place stanzas in church bulletins, along with the thirty or so dollars per entry sent by those with delusions of a first-place finish, fleeting recognition and a decent dollar prize (editors who are always prepared to exploit those they normally reject come contest time – when they need a hefty infusion of funds). Granted, the issues of this periodical, when they arrive over the next twelve months, will no doubt find a place on a person’s bookshelf, after he or she has quickly leafed through it, reluctantly admitting that the photographs inside are far better than the poems therein, much like those brightly coloured books you had as a child that wooed you with their pictures but at least had a text that in some meaningful way, spoke to you where you were, at that moment, and that today you can still recall.


-- Andreas Gripp

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Poem from The Penitent up on YouTube

Thanks to the folks at London Open Mic Poetry Night (in particular Erik Martinez-Richards) for posting the video below and writing the summation on YouTube. It's my live rendering of the first poem from my latest book, The Penitent ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWJ751iE_dI




The text of the poem can be found in several places online including Internet Archive, Google Books, and on Scribd below:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/152462046/The-Penitent-or-Cannon-Foster-s-Dissonance-Revolution-by-Andreas-Gripp





Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Parallactic Visions by Gregory Wm. Gunn


 
 
 
The poem below is one of the beauties from Parallactic Visions, the 8th book of poetry by London’s prolific versifier Gregory Wm. Gunn. “The Bard of Byron” has crafted a collection that flows seamlessly out of his 2012 offering, Pseudoeden: A Contemporary Utopia. The vocabulary is complex and eclectic, and the poet continues to explore the displays of nature, episodes of love, as well as a bit of caustic social commentary for good measure.

 

Dispirited Thrush

On one occasion I tracked
a dispirited thrush.
It encircled the fenland
and my ears were attuned
to the cadence
of the bulrushes,
repeatedly among
the tall blades,
trembling in the breeze
prior to the approaching
rainstorm.

On one occasion I tracked
a dispirited thrush.
I discovered a yellow
crested feather buoyed
by the water.
I designated the feather mine,
and pulsing precipitation
poured from my hands.

I tracked my thrush
to a fallen tree where
a young woman lilted
a pleasant melody:
a euphonic resonance
across the dampened grass.

My thrush adored her
and happily lingered.



Gregory Wm. Gunn


81 pages, available from Lulu Press (ISBN 978-1-300-94213-9).

 

 

 – Andreas Gripp

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Telling Lies: New Chapbook by Katherine L. Gordon and S.J. White



Rockwood Ontario's Katherine Gordon was kind and mailed me a copy of her new chapbook that she's co-written with Brantford poet Stanley J. White. The pair have collaborated before, and their latest release, Telling Lies, published by Cyclamens and Swords out of Metulla, Israel (ISBN 978-965-7503-15-7), was an expeditious and very pleasant read delving into both the earthly and the celestial.

12 poems by each author make up this collection, and a sample by each is below:



Mona Lisa Enigma
by Katherine L. Gordon

Are you really a boy
untrue to all but the artist?
I sense that smile of experience
away from the frame
avoiding corseted rules
you are meant to play
on the walls of Kings.



Music Hall
by S.J. White

Sex is something
God has thrown in to ensure
we do not confuse ourselves
with deities, with angels --
a kind of tether
that never lets us stray too far
from freshly turned earth after rain
and in the pathos of it all
a constant reminder
of vaudeville, of burlesque.



These are two very underappreciated poets, both of whom have had poetry recently featured in Quern: An Anthology of Contemporary Poets (Serengeti Press, 2013). Well-seasoned and insightful, their ability to complement each other and to present lines of verse for further pondering is something the people's poetry community is fortunate to be blessed with.


-- Andreas Gripp

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Free PDF e-book version of Ex Gratia now available on Scribd and Internet Archive































Still haunted by the memory of her dead fiancé, a young woman is unable to reciprocate the love from her closest friend and admirer whose perspective and story is told in this sequence of 18 poems ...

http://www.scribd.com/doc/158819144/Ex-Gratia-by-Andreas-Gripp

http://archive.org/details/ExGratia

Monday, 8 July 2013

New Free e-book Available

 



My 17th book of poetry (and my 30th release overall including chapbooks), The Penitent, or Cannon Foster's Dissonance Revolution, is available starting today as a free PDF digital book from Scribd as well as The Internet Archive. Coming soon to Google Books too. A limited-edition print version will gradually trickle out over the next few months from Harmonia Press at a very nominal price. This collection is a little different from my usual fare but it's still me and it's free. Cheers.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Penitent, or Cannon Foster’s Dissonance Revolution


Note the reasons that you offer
under our light bulb’s scrutiny,
the excuses that you conjure,
that you’re no murderer of children
or a pouncing, heartless thief.

So you defend yourself
with parables,
make analogies, apologist.

It falls apart in seconds
with your motives and intent,
the clumsiness contrived
like a banana peel of old
or a simple clash of chefs
spilling sushi in desserts,
fish that swam just hours before
fresh-baked in flans
and crumbles.

If I’m around the kitchen door,
sponging hinges with vinaigrette,
know I’ve summoned witches
from their trance,
to fashion peace with warring factions,
keep dissent from mutating,
beating the bird flu at killing us all.

Once, when my wisdom teeth were pulled,
I knew what seeing death was all about.
They counted backward from 10 to 1,
anesthetics kicking in
by the time they got to four.

And I felt nothing, saw nothing,
knew that nothing awaited souls all ripe
and brimming with redemption.

It’s much too late for demons
to regain their cloudy place,
their faces still contorted by the fall.
If they trade-in all their pitchforks,
would their fingers pluck on harps?

The done is done already
and the street too set in rock
to allow for U-turns on the road.
There’s a patrolman who is watching
with his buzzer on the horn,
waiting to silence the changed-of-mind
with a reckless driving ticket.

Remember Eastwood’s comeback
in the raucous Unforgiven.
Who predicted Oscars
for his old-man gait and voice?
Even his nameless, faceless stuntman
is eating donuts by the pool.

They’ll sculpt your many failings
on the sunny estuary,
next to madmen selling tickets to the ball.
If you can, come in costume as Rodin,
say Camille is on her way,
seducing the Sheriff who pulled her over,
driving fifteen over fifty
with curdled cognac in her cup –
her bewitching breasts exposed
to offer payment for the fines.

And at last when no one’s watching,
when they’re bowing their heads in prayer,
smash their graven image
with a hammer from the shed.
Tell them it was an accident,
an earthquake,
an Act of God as clemency;
to reconcile, easier
the second time around,
supplanting substitution
and Words becoming Flesh,
displacing lambs that bleat and bleed
seventy, seventy,
seven times seventy.




Andreas Gripp



Friday, 28 June 2013

an e-chapbook on trees vs. urban retail sprawl



7 poets, including RL Raymond, Penn Kemp & Tom Cull (as well as myself, Patricia Keeney, Susan McCaslin and Susan McMaster), have contributed poems in response to a city of London proposal to clear-cut a suburban woodlot to make way for unnecessary urban retail sprawl. This collection is published by Pigeonbike Press and is available for reading via the link below:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/150431112/Trees-or-Jobs

Monday, 24 June 2013

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Upcoming Launch for new Canadian Poetry Anthology

The Launch for Quern: An Anthology of Contemporary Poets (Serengeti Press, 2013) will take place on Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 at the St. George Lawn Bowling Club (Corner of West and Thompson Streets in St. George, Ontario), from 2:00 to 4:00pm. Hear from contributors Becky Alexander, April Bulmer, Conrad DiDiodato, Lenny Everson, Katherine L. Gordon, Andreas Gripp, Wendy Visser and S.J. White. Copies of the book will be on sale through The Book Band.



Monday, 20 May 2013

New Broadside: The Pitiful Crow


















These are the closing lines from my poem, The Pitiful Crow

Please click on the broadside above for the larger version

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Jack Layton Art in Action Book Launch Tour Comes to London





The national book launchs for Jack Layton: Art in Action began in April in British Columbia and on Thursday May 23rd it's London's Aeolian Hall's turn to host. Penn Kemp has put together an incredible book paying tribute to the late federal New Democratic Party leader which comes 2 years after the NDP became Canada's official opposition for the first time.


"Jack Layton: Art in Action is a truly inspiring cornucopia of anecdotes, reflections, poems, and images infused with Jack’s spirit, and with the spirits of many who were touched and motivated by his example. It reveals his life as a work of art capable of igniting us into positive, caring action."
Quattro Books
 
 
My new poem, Irving and Jack, about someone who confuses Jack Layton with Irving Layton at an arts gathering, is included in this collection.
 
"Read this beautiful book about Jack's passion for the arts. He loved to make music, dance and he was happiest when he led massive sing-alongs. I hope Jack's story will inspire you to live your life based on love, hope and optimism."
– Olivia Chow, NDP MP Trinity Spadina, Toronto


"Jack Layton, more than any other politician I’ve ever known, was able to combine politics, the arts, compassion, and uncommon sense into a public life that is a blueprint for public service. I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants to serve as Jack did. And for everyone who votes.”
– Thomas King



Here is the info for the launch:

Thursday, May 23, 2013: Doors Open 7:00 pm for a 7:30 start. Jack Layton: Art in Action book launch with contributors. Co-hosted by MP Irene Mathyssen and editor/poet Penn Kemp. Presenters include MPP Teresa Armstrong, Allan Briesmaster of Quattro Books, contributors Gina Barber, Clark Bryan, Kathleen Dindoff, Katerina Fretwell, Andreas Gripp, Daniel Kolos, Shawn Lewis, Tanis Macdonald, John Magyar, Nancy Loucks-McSloy, Gavin Stairs, Joe Wilson, Wendy Valhoff, Jennifer White & Robert McMaster. The Aeolian, 795 Dundas St. E., London, Ontario, 519-672-7950, info@aeolianhall.ca or Penn@pennkemp.ca or
Quattro Books, info@quattrobooks.ca, 647-748-7484. http://aeolianhall.ca/events/jack-layton-art-action-book-launch


 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Harmonia Press Spring Book Launch Poster #1

So here is the first digital poster for my forthcoming book launch (a triple launch with fellow poets Dorothy Nielsen & Carrie Lee Connel). All 3 titles are with Harmonia Press.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

new broadside: "Exoneration"



These are the closing lines of my poem, Past Life Aggression. Artwork by Agnes Cecile. Please click on the broadside for the larger version.

Monday, 18 March 2013

New Canadian Poetry Anthology Forthcoming



Coming this Spring, Quern, an anthology of poems by Becky Alexander, April Bulmer, Conrad DiDiodato, Lenny Everson, Katherine L. Gordon, Andreas Gripp, Wendy Visser, and S.J. White. Published by Serengeti Press. ISBN 978-0-9810318-7-3

Hope to have some launch info soon ...


Friday, 8 March 2013

Harmonia Press Blog

There's a little blog for Harmonia Press which I mentioned a couple of posts ago. There you can find a bit of info on upcoming poetry releases and future book readings. Straightforward and simple ...

http://harmoniapress.blogspot.com  

Just announced today, a forthcoming release by Dorothy Nielsen, Professor of Literature and Writing at King's University College in London, Ontario.


Monday, 18 February 2013

Making a Big Deahl






Rooms the Wind Makes by James Deahl, (Guernica Editions, 2012) 160 pp.


Reading the poetry of Sarnia-based poet James Deahl in the winter months is like drinking a cup of camomile tea in a cardigan with a bit of Bach playing softly in the background. Take the second part of “Sweet Goldenrod” as highly representative, in terms of imagery and pacing, of this beautiful work:

Far out at sea
the swell slides under
fierce black hulls,
our steeled fleet.

The ship moves like a woman.
A spray of goldenrod
fills the cabin
with yellow light.

Somewhere the blind are singing.
Their voices carry
the passion of water,
the night’s slow salt.

Rooms the Wind Makes embodies the subtle breath of season, the splash and snaps of nature; the poems, though rich in lines and stanzas, infused with the essence of haiku.

In “Abandoned Brickworks,” Deahl illustrates the strength that nature carries in its reclamation process: “Let the snows of winter / purify this place of toil; let spring rains raise lilies / where fires burned the daytime black.”

One of the collection’s most vivid highlights is the quadruplexed, “Beyond Pigment: lines suggested by some Russian artists,” including paintings by Boris Frantsuzov and Kim Britov. That Deahl is able to take what’s on the canvas and convey its contents within the realm of descriptive verse attests to the insight of his visual attunement.

There is deafening silence in Rooms the Wind Makes – in “Emma’s World,” it speaks in places unexpected:

Stones lie concealed
by creepers and dogbane
on the forest floor; they are
the stones of forgiveness,
the mineral murmur of lost prayers.
Our angels fall asleep
in their sycamores.

Any girl could go astray here
in these hollows creeks carved –
the silence between words
an iron tongue
locked in her body’s ossuary;
her hands, like water,
seeking their own level.

From the outset, the poems hark back to Deahl’s memorable translation of the 8th-century Chinese poet Tu Fu’s work found in The River’s Stone Roots (Serengeti Press, 2005). Like Tu Fu’s short but poignant lines about nature and the concurrent episodes of loneliness, a similar narrative voice is adopted here throughout the book’s half-dozen sections. Though not in an immediate milieu of war as Tu Fu had been, the echoed sounds of the environment nevertheless offer an atmosphere of meditative, solitary reflection.

Darkness and light pirouette in a number of these pieces, and the seasonal changes arrive like clockwork, leaving the poet to respectfully observe, and, true to the Zen-like manner of a haiku, render no judgement in the process.

Of farmers’ houses in the dead of winter, Deahl writes, “Amid the bare trees / they are the bells of loneliness / wintering out the dark months, / waiting for spring / to strike them pure.”

The loss of summer’s foliage and the coming of the cold with its accompanying dirge is declared multiple times. As Deahl notes on the book’s back cover, life’s brevity and the inevitable suffering it brings are themes to be explored here – in part at least, to honour the work of Denise Levertov, in conjunction with nature’s fleeting beauty which both poets often speak of.

The forlorn ghosts of the past are mimicked in the falling leaves, the frozen bodies of water. Deahl’s years spent in the Appalachians provides just one of the backdrops to the poetic pictures drawn while each vignette gives us the sense of “passing by” – as though we are travellers accompanying the poet on his return to places never static, ever-changing. And there is no shortage of Canadian landscapes either, like Fundy, described as “A land so sharp / it falls away in screes / as it rushes to reach the bay / where great tides sweep / and withdraw to cleanse / the land of memory.”

There are many moments of deeply personal revelations. Back in Ontario, Deahl writes In The Wet Fields:    

The deaths accumulate.
So many friends reside in paradise
or have turned to nothing under the ground.
The storm moves off and I don’t know
if I should pray in these wet fields
or follow the lightning
as far as it goes.

There are a number of dedications in the book’s closing section, “Dark Honey” – artists from another time and another land having their names and work brought to our attention, like Russian sculptress Adelaida Pologova. Deahl carries her sorrow along with his own, scribing “The longest day of the year / offers its grey wind to the capital; / it blows from the east, from that forgotten / realm where the fathers vanished. This is all / Adelaida can know; this and her child’s laughter.”

The concluding poems become more familial, with maternal and paternal grandparents cited in the continuing dedications.  And here there are sicknesses, cancers, deaths and burials. On his father’s passing, Deahl notes “His hands were the claws of a great raptor, / each yellowed nail clutching at life. No letting go.”

The finale, “Foundations,” is a statement of hope found in the juice of mulberries, in the green of trees, their testimony to creation and their prophetic voice. “To learn to love this world one must learn to / love the silence it makes ...”

Amidst the violence in the natural and human worlds, somehow peace and calm are imparted by James Deahl in a manner that only the most seasoned of poets could have brought to the page.


– Andreas Gripp