Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Poetry, Newfoundland and Labrador and "where the whales dive"

Coastlines – The Poetry of Atlantic Canada , published by Goose Lane Editions in 2002 - is a high caliber poetry anthology edited by Anne Compton, Laurence Hutchman, Ross Leckie and Robin McGrath.

Its preface carefully explores the concept of poetry within a regional space and notes that the anthology is in nuce an opportunity to celebrate the current Atlantic poetry renaissance. 

To the writer of this blog post, the poetry included in Coastlines brings to light in varying degrees of intensity some of the key differentiators of the contemporary Canadian poetry: the subliminal integration of the vastness of the Canadian landscape, prose poem-like poetic constructs, a framework of reference that favors interaction with the ‘external’ & ‘internal’ world in a manner that is, in many instances, highly kinesthetic.  

The chapter dedicated to poets from Newfoundland and Labrador in Coastlines includes poetry by Michael Crummey, Mary Dalton, Tom Dawe, Richard Greene, Randall Maggs, Carmelita McGrath, Al Pittman, GordonRodgers, John Steffler, Agnes Walsh, Patrick Warner and Enos Watts.

Michael Crummey’s poem Painting the Islands, one of the first poems in this chapter, sets the tone of this section’s  brooding eloquence:

"Approaching Nain, the islands
are bare and burnished black,
metallic glint of the afternoon sun
and for the few minutes it takes
to sail beyond them the stones
are alive with light."

Richard Greene, the 2010 winnerof the GG Award for poetry, depicts a stunning scenery in Utopia:

“An immense acreage of solitude.
I am always here
On a hillside of quartz and juniper,
A ridge over water
Where the whales blow and dive”

and Tom Dawe surprises his readers with a re-write of Daedalus’ myth:

“On morning wings
across the sun
he comes before me,
there at the seabird’s cove”.

(from Daedalus).

I recommend reading this book. 


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