Wednesday, June 21, 2006

#45 - Strike/Slip

My RRHB, after hearing "Slips and Tangles," a song from Left and Leaving, said, "That's it, I'm done." Meaning that there was nothing he could create, write, perform that could even approach how much he loved that particular song.

In a way, that's exactly how I feel about Don McKay's latest book of poetry, Strike/Slip. I might as well stop even attempting to write poetry at this moment in time because I'll never come close to putting the words together with such an exacting elegance as McKay, one of Canada's foremost poetic masters.

Strike/Slip burst open any silly lit crit that nature poems, or the idea of exploring the relationship between humans and the world we inhibit is taboo, over, or even close to being done with. Each poem meditates to some extent on the natural world and McKay's talent brings it all back to an intensely human experience, a human condition, if you'll allow me the existential indulgence.

And they are perfect. Perfect in their forms in their metaphors in their similes in their imagery in their substance and in their impact. I read and reread many of them on the streetcar over the past few days, savouring every word like a smartie I wish would never melt in my mouth.

But one of my favourite lines, from "Song of the Saxifrage to the Rock", goes like this:

Who is so heavy with the past as you,
Monsieur Basalt? Not the planet's most muscular
depressive, not the twentieth century.

Or "Abandoned Cables", where "tangles" of overgrown, massive wires are "unshriven entrails", remnants of our industrial society, and now meant to rust by the side of the road, forever abandoning both their function and use, but still a constant reminder to those "po-mo cappuccinos" that real work exists.

Brilliant. It's a book of poetry that I'll keep close to my heart, beyond the subtle self-indulgence of Plath, beside the calculated whimsy of Gwendolyn MacEwan, and way, way up there above everything I long to be.

And that's #1 off my Summer Reading List. Whee! Only 29 to go...

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