One of my favorite books from ages ago, The Journal Of St. Denys Garneau which I discovered in a bargain bin at the Coles where Neil Young worked.
I had been frequenting the Champlain bookstore in Toronto, when I first saw a mention of him, picking up books in the European style or French style, uncut pages you had to razor open to read Marie Claire Blais, Anne Hébert(Garneau’s cousin), and others, etc. Which of course led to other readings of Hubert Aquin, Michel Tremblay, etc etc.
Favorite because it fit right in with circumstances of thought, countryside and origin (I’d go to read it in solitude in a place near Ottawa, having visited my mother’s birthplace in Campbell’s Bay, Quebec), and the poetic disclosures. The discovery attached to slicing open pages, and translating – since the poems were in French – always felt fresh and new, and I could see what was missed in other translations though John Glassco’s comes closest.
Reminded me that favorites are often due to a time and place, as are poets whose popularity mysteriously decline upon their deaths; similar to the most popular novelists of decades or centuries past whom not many can even recall.
The book lasts for many reasons then, one of which would be the essential self, made bare without being mired in the spectacles which pass for a self these days, through literate and real details as is the case in many of his poems at whatever level they may be taken.
He was as much a denizen of my ‘neighborhood’ of spirits and souls as Shelley, Shakespeare, or reaching back, Archilochus, and Marcus Aurelius.
In the face of an ever diminishing interest in one of the oldest arts, poetry, this book serves as an introduction why that interest should be revived in schools and individuals: illustrating the loss that accrues by not doing so, and the benefits to society through a passionate involvement in the poetic arts. Poetry has been an essential art in history and is in danger of being trivialized into extinction. Several seminal events in recent literary history are detailed in illustrating how poetry is not merely an adjunct to history and culture but can elucidate, influence and in changing perspective alter those same events and deeds. Find out more in this treatise more sociologically descriptive than academically oriented.
“Invaluable teaching tool that makes poetry enjoyably accessible while making the art of poetry relevant to all our times and ages.”
Dean J. Baker is an author of more than 20 books. Composer, performer, and songwriter published in prestigious literary journals worldwide since 1973.
Born in Toronto, Canada, to a Ukrainian/Polish father and an Irish/Scottish mother. Attended the University of Guelph, and later won their book awards, along with several unsolicited Ontario Arts Council awards, best poems published in a year in literary journals, and The T.S. Eliot Society of Miami’s Calendar Poet award. Member of Socan (Society of Authors, Composers, Publishers) he has played guitar, bass, and piano in many bands and is writing more songs. Author of The Herald(2010), and Baker’s Bad Boys(2010), published by Mad Poet Press. His most recent works are Silence Louder Than A Train, The Mythologies Of Love, The Lost Neighborhood, an expanded and revised Baker’s Bad Boys(2014-satiric stories of childhood), Dark Earth, Of Flesh Sculptures And Abandoned Love, The Eschatological Dog, Measuring Gravity By Grace (Poems 1970-1980, Vol.1), Our Geographies (Poems 1970-1980, Vol.2), The Transits Of Revelation, Fat Albert’s Outpatient Folk Clinic, The Moon Worn Tides Vol. 1, Poetry & How It Gets That Way, In Riparian Fields, Tormenting The Monkey, Provenances And Paroles, Cousin Harold’s Adventures In The Real World, The Poetry Hotel, The Lost Canadian, Early Selected Poems, Vol. 1, The Lost Canadian, Poems Selected, Vol. 2., Blood Upon The Moon, Soliloquies Of The Horizons.
His awards include universities’ awards, along with several unsolicited Arts Council awards; best poems published in a year in literary journals, edited two books of Governor General’s Award winner Joe Rosenblatt, and The T.S. Eliot Society of Miami’s Calendar Poet award.
He has traveled solo through Canada, the USA, Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Greece. Dean J. Baker’s works show a highly disciplined, passionate and informed uniqueness. He brings to his craft a very widely read mind, fully intimate with all the great literature of the past along with a similar awareness of today’s writers.
“Dean is a combination of thought and torment that has made him write more than a baker’s dozen of fine poems.. he might produce a collection that could astound us all.” – Irving Layton, (“Canada’s greatest poet”-Leonard Cohen), nominated twice for the Nobel Prize for Literature. http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/ https://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM
104 pages, $15.99
William Godwin, father of Mary Shelley, and husband to Mary Wollstonecraft, her mother, wrote a book which has influenced many great poets and writers, and ought to influence many more.
Not in the sense of being a treatise, or bible of belief, but as fertile ground for what is inspiring and true in the entirety of the book.
An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice was written in 1793, during the French Revolution. “Its powerful critique of the institutions of government and support for individual liberty of judgement raises profound questions about the nature of our duty to others that is still relevant today.” – https://global.oup.com/academic/product/an-enquiry-concerning-political-justice-9780199642625
“No work gave such a blow to the philosophical mind of the country as the celebrated Enquiry … Tom Paine was considered for a time as Tom Fool to him, Paley an old woman, Edmund Burke a flashy sophist. Truth, moral truth, it was supposed had here taken up its abode; and these were the oracles of thought.” – William Hazlitt, Spirit Of The Age
This book served the poet Shelley his entire life, as well as Byron and many others following.
In 1792 Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women (With Strictures On Political and Moral Subjects), of which there are many great quotes to be derived. Such as “If women be educated for dependence; that is, to act according to the will of another fallible being, and submit, right or wrong, to power, where are we to stop?”
All three of these books have a suggestive confluence together and apart; are revelatory for their own reasons, as such as was being created in those times when it may have been less difficult, or apparently so, for some great and unique literature to be created appears as obvious and transparent truths due not to the age but the authors’ abilities.
all my books on sale – http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM
<–Check this out: Poetry & How It Gets That Way – updated!
also posted – https://ohcanaduh.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/the-herald-2/
Alden Nowlan is one of those poets whom I never got to meet, and always wish I’d been able to do so.
I first saw one of his poems when I was in high school. And as with that poem, his other poems: they always evoke, a ‘yes!,’ about honesty and the truth of things. Always memorable. You’ll find them repeating themselves at the least expected moments.
The poem that first struck me was his ‘Aunt Jane.’
Aunt Jane, of whom I dreamed the nights it
was dead at ninety, buried at a hundred.
We kept her corpse a decade, hid upstairs,
where it ate porridge, slept and said its prayers.
And every night before I went to bed
they took me in to worship with the dead.
Christ Lord, if I should die before I wake,
I pray thee Lord my body take.
Just to be sitting in your own world and to have 8 lines smack you awake out of the blue, away from your concerns and take you to revelation so quickly, so easily, and with such delight – amazing.
But Alden has many, many poems of the kind that do so – surprising in their humility, strength and understanding. His are the works you could carry in a small book with you and find sustaining every time you looked.
He covers history, patriotism, and more all in a beautiful way.
Canadian January Night
Ice storm: the hill
a pyramid of black crystal
down which the cars
slide like phosphorescent beetles
while I, walking backwards in obedience
to the wind, am possessed
of the fearful knowledge
my compatriots share
but almost never utter:
this is a country
where a man can die
simply from being
And from Alden Nowlan, Selected Poems
A Poem About Miracles
Why don’t records go blank
the instant the singer dies?
Oh, I know there are explanations,
but they don’t convince me.
I’m still surprised
when I hear the dead singing.
As for orchestras,
I expect the instruments
to fall silent one by one
as the musicians succumb
to cancer and heart disease
so that toward the end
I turn on a disc
and all that comes out
is the sound of one sick old man
scraping a shaky bow
across and out-of-tune fiddle.
These poems of Alden’s are a few of the good, and representative of his best. You need the book to even begin to get an awareness of his greatness.
Robert Frost may be more well known, but for me Alden wins the laurels.
all my books on sale – http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM
Just when it has seemed I couldn’t bear
one more friend
waking with a tumor, one more maniac
with a perfect reason, often a sweetness
and changed nothing in the world
except the way I stumbled through it,
for a while lost
in the ignorance of loving
someone or something, the world shrunk
hand-size, and never seeming small.
I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn’t leave a stain,
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet ….
Tonight a friend called to say his lover
was killed in a car
he was driving. His voice was low
and guttural, he repeated what he needed
to repeat, and I repeated
the one or two words we have for such grief
until we were speaking only in tones.
Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough
to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don’t care
where it’s been, or what bitter road
to come so far, to taste so good.
© 1989 by Stephen Dunn
Stephen Dunn, “Sweetness” from New and Selected Poems 1974-1994. Copyright © 1989 by Stephen Dunn.
A truly great poet – with any number of fine books to choose from.
Any clear thing that blinds us with surprise,
your wandering silences and bright trouvailles,
dolphin let loose to catch the flashing fish. . . .
saying too little, then too much.
Poets die adolescents, their beat embalms them,
The archetypal voices sing offkey;
the old actor cannot read his friends,
and nevertheless he reads himself aloud,
genius hums the auditorium dead.
The line must terminate.
Yet my heart rises, I know I’ve gladdened a lifetime
knotting, undoing a fishnet of tarred rope;
the net will hang on the wall when the fish are eaten,
nailed like illegible bronze on the futureless future.
-excerpt from The Dolphin
Just read the first two lines and know that is not only about poetry but also about how
poetry in the world is recognizable, and the contrary is true: what isn’t poetry is known as well.
The brilliant use of metaphor matched with the physical aligning into discovery: how important poetry is when with only a few lines
endless senses of intellect, art, and personal renewal can be seen and pursued in a manner that the world itself would never allow, and thus must be and remain an object of delight and study,
because in that moment of poetry where the lines resound the reader is forever altered.
For those interested in literary trivia, ‘Dolphin’ is the nickname by which Lowell would often refer to his wife.
The mothership: http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com