Sunday, October 07, 2012

A Bird of The Genus Poetica

Bridget Bird, published by Serengeti Press, is a poetry book whose author is the Canadian poet, poetry blogger and educator Conrad DiDiodato.

Bridget Bird was launched in June 2012, at the Puddicombe Farms in Southern Ontario in an idyllic setting for poetry readings and nature musings.

Against the dulcet backdrop of verdant orchards and luxurious green-dappled shade cast off by passing clouds over the Niagara Escarpment, a very modern book of poetry, Bridget Bird, took its flight.
Mr. DiDiodato’s verses, constructed with informal and poignant poetic overtones, introduce us to a creative landscape distilled from both scenery and artful interrogation.
In several poems in the volume, a backdrop reminiscent of a lake shoreline, of exuberant and eerily mysterious fauna and flora converge to anchor the reader in its atmosphere:
“Fidgety, exuberant time of the year.  Sweet earth tones
of a primal dinky Eden,
a yard that’s losing its green; scented suns, dews still
on late lilacs, fuzzy mists”

 (From Mostly A Squirrel)

Quintessentially Canadian, this dreamy aria that speaks of “late lilac and fuzzy mists” reaches out into a larger literary context that insinuates itself once we set down the book for a couple of seconds.

W.H.Auden’s Look Stranger, On This Island Now unfettered a similar frame of mind:

“Here at a small field's ending pause
Where the chalk wall falls to the foam and its tall ledges
Oppose the pluck
And knock of the tide,
And the shingle scrambles after the suck-
-ing surf, and a gull lodges
A moment on its sheer side.”

This frame of mind is tinged by the rustling of critters and lake waters in Bridget Bird:

“I felt the heart of a lake say to me, just me
‘Harvest the little things, filmy-eyed
 like shiners & spiders;’”

(From At Heart Lake)

The somewhat deceiving stillness in Mr. DiDiodato’s poetry is punctured by dramatic episodes, in which, in a friendly and ironic tone, the poet continues to engage his readers:

“A leaf pressed into the red thirsting beak
          of a bird!

The harder the catch, leaf, slug, the harder you spin
          like a Bridget bird!

(From Bridget Bird)

A thoroughly enjoyable part of Mr. DiDiodato’s poetry lies, in my opinion in the utterly modern/post-modern manner in which Mr. DiDiodato crafts his lines, in his use of the punctuation and syntax and in a lush and far-ranging vocabulary:

“A fatal drop of Verlaine, dead yet
like white anise
     Verlaine, a
blanket of ash over Montmartre”

(From Poet)

Knowing that Mr. DiDiodato is an avid reader and translator of Dante, I looked for clues of this benefic influence in Bridget Bird.
I thought I found one here:
“As if a belief in the wind and a twig armed for weak stringy nest
weren’t enough, I made a dash for the lake
with a leaf in my cap, billowing out into autumness.”

(From Into Autumness)

On second reading, though, I thought the fragment above more closely matches a snippet out of a Wallace Stevens book, whose poetry – I’m guessing – Mr. DiDiodato also likes (and quotes in Bridget Bird.)  Or perhaps a poem by John Donne.  Or - Theodore Roethke.
And the list may continue to grow.

 Such is the gift of good poetry: it takes us back and it moves us forward, through an array of distant and familiar metaphors that dazzle our imagination and makes us want more of the same.

Read Bridget Bird by Conrad DiDiodato.


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