In this anthology of essays, twenty-seven Canadian poets elaborate on the chance encounters that set them on the path of poetry, and the poems and poets that set their hearts on fire.
Twenty-seven Canadian poets on the chance encounters that set them on the path of poetry, the poems and poets that set their hearts on fire
In these lively and varied essays, 27 Canadian poets speak about the poems that summoned them to poetry and influenced the kind of poet, and reader, they became. This is a book for those already under the spell of poetry, but also for those who aren’t, because we are told again and again to put aside our anxiety about what a poem means, about its vocabulary of allusion and symbol and even its narrative thrust, and to experience it instead as sound and feeling, something that engages bodily and emotionally first and foremost and only laterally, if at all, as the communication of an idea.
—Ed. Kim Jernigan
“It was language I loved, not meaning. I liked poetry better when I wasn’t sure what it meant. Eliot has said that the meaning of the poem is provided to keep the mind busy while the poem gets on with its work—like the bone thrown to the dog by the robber so he can get on with his work.”
“Looking back, I think I was too green to have more than an inkling of what I was reading. But that intimation—naive, inarticulate, confounding—approached the mystical. And I’m still after that as a reader, the place where meaning shimmers like a heat-haze over the world’s everyday presence; seeming, at once, to rise from the details of our lives and to exist beyond them; to almost and nearly say who we are, and why. Which seems to be as much as the world is willing to offer by way of explanation.”
“I’m not sure that, for me, knowledge is ‘erotic,’ but I agree with Hirschfield when she writes: ‘What we regard must seduce us, and we it, if we are to nkow it more thoroughly, to live with it in intimacy, to join its speaking to their own as fully as possible. We memorize it, recite it over and over, reawaken it with tongue and mind and heart.’ Maybe all great poems are love poems.”