from The Lost Canadian, Vol.1, Early Poems Selected… ‘Song For Jenny’

Dean J. Baker - Poetry, and prose poems

Mad-
ness hums in my ear,
like a fly
that’s caught there.

I can’t touch you.
This is
the new ballet.
I can’t touch you.

Stay away,
I am deaf with silences.
Splintered and shining,
I go down like a stone.

©Dean Baker

-excerpt from The Lost Canadian, Vol.1, Early Poems Selected 112 pages, $14.99….first published in Northern Light.. photo is of Guelph, Ontario railway station

• my books – http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM- buy one, do yourself a service 🙂

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Series of Book Covers with photos of Canadian Places

A series of my #bookcovers, attesting to my origins #CanadaDay #Canada150 – photographs of #Canadianplaces #CanadianPoets #poetry

A series of my , attesting to my origins – photographs of

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©Dean Baker
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from Dark Earth… ‘The Herald’

Book of Hours, f.58v, (184 x 133 mm), 15th cen...

 

Nothing more than abstract ornament,
explanations and discussions
keeping us to ourselves; we were
too petty for anything else. God
and Spirit, man and God again: no
insight into the common denominators.

Stupidity categorized the crews
taking over. In Canada, one was
reduced to waiting; at best,
you sent yourself notes (not poems)
hoping they would stay closed, or
fall open revealing all upon arrival.

You are lost either way. Death
enters your life: a troubadour
strolling through the provincial town.
Each gesture of government singing
the unwanted guest to bed, who is
finishing the last bite of food.

One brought no plans for conversation,
issuing invitations in the dark
he slips from his clothes. The livery
stark amusement, leaving only the arc
of a streetlamp which constellates:
the hard vistas of distant expectation.

©Dean Baker

available in DARK EARTH, 142 pages, $15.99

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– title from my first book The Herald, poem first published in Jewish Dialog

 

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Irving Layton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thing could barely stand. Yet taken
from his mother and the barn smells
he still impressed with his pride,
with the promise of sovereignity in the way
his head moved to take us in.
The fierce sunlight tugging the maize from the ground
liked at his shapely flanks.
He was too young for all that pride.
I thought of the deposed Richard II.

“No money in bull calves,” Freeman had said.
The visiting clergyman rubbed the nostrils
now snuffing pathetically at the windless day.
“A pity,” he sighed.
My gaze slipped off his hat toward the empty sky
that circled over the black knot of men,
over us and the calf waiting for the first blow.

Struck,
the bull calf drew in his thin forelegs
as if gathering strength for a mad rush…
tottered…raised his darkening eyes to us,
and I saw we were at the far end
of his frightened look, growing smaller and smaller
till we were only the ponderous mallet
that flicked his bleeding ear
and pushed him over on his side, stiffly,
like a block of wood.

Below the hill’s crest
the river snuffled on the improvised beach.
We dug a deep pit and threw the dead calf into it.
It made a wet sound, a sepulchral gurgle,
as the warm sides bulged and flattened.
Settled, the bull calf lay as if asleep,
one foreleg over the other,
bereft of pride and so beautiful now,
without movement, perfectly still in the cool pit,
I turned away and wept.

©Irving Layton

The economy of language, the spirit of truth; sociology, philosophy: the distillation of experiences reflected, and altered, in one brief poem – that’s the magic of poetry, and a great poet.
Irving Layton is a poet everyone should read, and hear reading his own work.  http://irvinglayton.ca/Recordings/index.html

Irving Layton was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, twice. He was friend and mentor to Leonard Cohen. Leonard called him “Canada’s greatest poet.”

Looked up to by Allen Ginsberg, Williams Carlos WilliamsMichael Hamburger, and many other fine and great writers for decades.

Disclosure: Irving was my friend for decades. He once said of my very early writing, ” 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.” And he did not play favourites.

my books http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

alternatively, direct from – https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/links-to-my-books-in-print//

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Everywhere I Go – John Newlove

jnewlove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are people talking about. Everywhere I go they whisper.

They stick their eyes at me, right at the base of the breastbone,
when I’m not looking.

The breastbone seems flat, pointed like a dagger to the top
of my stomach.

O, my stomach, my stomach… when the knife rips you open
it will find coffee and four strips of bacon, pieces of chewed
beard and a handwritten note saying I have left town forever
again.

©John Newlove
– excerpt from his brilliant work, Lies, jnewlovelies1972 and from A Long Continual Argument, The Selected Poems of John Newlove

John was a friend of mine – yet I had only said hello back him when I heard him read this live one time at York University. I’d been searching for the room in which the reading was to be held, and came around a corner to come face-to-face with him, and Joe Rosenblatt.

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The mothership: http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com

©Dean J. Baker

The Truth In Certain Poetry – A.M.Klein, Irving Layton, Joe Rosenblatt, Yehuda Amichai, Margaret Atwood, Gwen MacEwen, Louise Bogan….

DarkEarth

There is a certain elegiac clarity and a dignity of purpose in certain poems, and poets possessed of a forthright manner and a lack of the contrived innuendoes that construct an approach to poetry or a facsimile of a poem.

C.P.Cavafy, Yeats, George Herbert, John Donne. A lot of the work of Gwendolyn MacEwen, and in the Greek writers she tended to enthuse over, for instance Yannis Ritsos, whom I met at her apartment one time. Also, a contemporary of hers, Irving Layton, much admired himself by Allen Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, and an endless procession of very unique writers, not the least of which was Leonard Cohen who called LaytonCanada’s greatest poet”(and definitely not only because he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1981).
That elegiac quality exists in Raymond Souster, F.R. Scott, John Newlove.
Louise Bogan’s The Blue Estuaries. Almost anything by Mark Strand.
George Seferis‘ work certainly.

The occasion for saying this is I’ve been re-reading Yehuda Amichai, and reading through the works of C.K. Williams. Not that these stand alone, but they stand singularly. I’d say I first encountered such qualities in the works of A.M. Klein. Another true, but rarely acknowledged master.
And you can find these qualities in certain poems, observations of Joe Rosenblatt.

The stillness encountered, the sense of profundity, the ‘whack’ that C.K. Williams speaks of in his poem of the same title: that sudden, yet familiar clarity that sweeps clean and leaves you more of your true self than you’d ever been up to that point.
Even the ringing of a certain bell, as at the beginning of ‘Starting Over’ by John Lennon.

Every writer, poet, songwriter, recognizes it when it occurs. But the scarce rarity of it inhabiting simple forthright lines with a certain regularity is the prize.

The work may seem oddly non-poetic when first encountered, or alternatively, exactly what you might expect. Preceded by distant rhythms and certain algebraic formulations of words, but it always come to that moment, this time, these words.

That is poetry: music, and song integrated with the silences and rhythms necessary to establish a poem in the world that exists like a very unique, and distinct world. Not separate, but so far inclusive the boundaries are not only contained but delineated without any injury to the work.

Discovering such as these, you can feel without the false discussions of literati, academics, or others useless opinions, the absolute necessity for poetry.

Making mention in the introduction to Poems, by Yehuda Amichai, is Michael Hamburger who very graciously himself lived the words he’d put to paper, in his translations as well, whether discussing Isaac Singer (present at the time), Irving Layton (for whom I’d said I’d get Singer’s autograph), Margaret Atwood, or the latest reader at a few literary festivals we talked about.

To read these poems, therefore, is to both be reminded of things one has tended to forget and to discover things that one has never known.” – Michael Hamburger
And lest it be taken that knowing, in regards to literature, scripture, history and the world are distant and apart from a poet’s life, know that Yehuda Amichai served in two wars, and while experienced in the truest sense found no exclusivity in certainties of any faith, or outlook.
You would find a semblance with very distinct differences in the works of Paul Celan.
A true view of being Israeli therefore, as well as a great awareness of European recall while standing firm in the very alive knowledge of the Kings and Prophets of his history in an individualistic manner likely disdained by nationalists and those against anything but a blanket stance on history and contemporaneity.

This makes for a great poet. And great are the poets also mentioned here whose work is a statement against any assumptions by virtue of its uniqueness and craft.

©Dean J. Baker

**note: click on the names for links to their work

Latest book: https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/latest-book-of-poems-in-riparian-fields/

#poetry #literature #MarkStrand #HenryMiller #AllenGinsberg, etc. Poetry & How It Gets That Way

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 and influence those same events and deeds.

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