from THE LOST CANADIAN, VOL.1… ‘A FRIEND’

for John Newlove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t like marriage,
but you like the company.

We’ve bent our elbows
so long on the same drink:
one of us must be a mirage.

Do you think that this
is how it ends – a little
blood spilled, sinking?

That’s not the moon; white
and propitiated,
sweeping cobwebs off your shoulder.

You tell me to listen:
as if belief may do more
than conjure truth, again.

Dean J. Baker

-excerpt from The Lost Canadian, Vol.1, 112 pages, $14.99

*JOHN NEWLOVE

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Alden Nowlan – Greatness in Poetry

nowlan_

 

 

 

 

 

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

Aunt Jane, of whom I dreamed the nights it
thundered,
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.

 

©Alden Nowlan

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.

One other:

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
caught outside.

©Alden Nowlan

 

Brilliant work.

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
labelled Götterdämmerung
and all that comes out
is the sound of one sick old man
scraping a shaky bow
across and out-of-tune fiddle.

 

©Alden Nowlan

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.

© Dean J. Baker

all my books on salehttp://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/links-to-my-books-in-print/

Meeting Gwen MacEwen, Marian Engel, Judith Merrill – introduced by Joe Rosenblatt

I was reminded the other day of meeting and getting to know some women writers whose work I admired.
Specifically, Gwen MacEwen, Marian Engel, and Judith Merrill.
I’ll be writing something of an autobiography at some point which will be inclusive of a lot of things and events, personally and professionally.

I was introduced to two of these writers through Joe Rosenblatt, and Gwen MacEwen.
(One thing about Gwen is she did a reading of the book whose photo you can see here, without the book, in its entirety at a place where earlier I saw Led Zeppelin – that size venue.)

One cold New Year’s day in Toronto, I headed over with Joe Joe (for whom I’d rewritten pages, and edited a few books of his) to Gwen’s apartment on St.George St. to meet up with her, and her wonderful cat, Dingbat.

Walking in the door, Gwen called me over to the living room where there were two women sitting on the couch. Little did I know.
Next thing I hear is Gwen saying, “This is the poet I’ve been telling you about.” And then she introduced me. Marian Engel! wrote that classic, Bear. Judith Merrill.
Marian Engel said, “Hi, Dean. So you’re the poet Gwen has been raving about, saying you’re great and brilliant.”

Now I’d been reading Gwen’s work for ages it seemed, and this was the first time we met. Mr. Joe had been telling her about me, my work – and she’d pestered him to bring me over. So I was taking in the first flush of meeting a poet whose work I loved, plus getting to meet Marian Engel, whose novella Bear I thought fantastic. And I was aware of Judith Merrill through the work of other science fiction writers, and the fact that at the time she lived just a block or so away on Spadina Road.

At this point, Judith said hello, and smiled. Likely anticipating Marian’s next statement.

Marian next said, “SO, say something brilliant and notable.”

Which I apparently did, to her satisfaction and Gwen’s and Judith’s, because we all started relaxing over coffee, etc.
What was said then and other times in more detail will be in the book… though there are various representations scattered throughout my poetry.

©Dean J. Baker

*note: Works of the writers that are a must read:

Dream Craters  +  The Voluptuous Gardener, etc etc etcJoe Rosenblatt

http://www.joerosenblatt.com/

Magic AnimalsGwen MacEwen

http://canpoetry.library.utoronto.ca/macewen/pub.htm

BearMarian Engel – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_Engel

some of my work… http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM