Dreams and Translations: Selected Poems 1983-2020 by Steven Heighton

Heighton can be rhetorically self-conscious when he strains metaphor, as in “the sunbeam’s flowing escalator” the opening line of “Birthday” (The Ecstasy of Skeptics), or when he indulges in imagistic hypertrophy or over-emphases, as in “English Cemetery, Gaspesie” (The Address Book), where the tombstones typify erasure, annulment, and decay. But there’s no denying the fluency, musicality, and conviction in his best personal poems, (“2001: An Elegy”) or his repertoire of kennings (“Collision”), keen sensory details (all his travel poems, especially in Foreign Ghosts), poignant metaphysical reflections (“The Waking Comes Late”), and powerful political suasion (“Baffled in Ashdod, Blind in Gaza”). This book (chiefly in the poems from The Ecstasy of Skeptics) shows Heighton attempting to find a balance between ecstasy and skepticism in life and in writing, with the balance shifting in time. His moral conscience is always impressively active and without being in overdrive, but so is his literary craft with its rich word hoard.

My caveat is the lack of a foreword by editor Karen Solie, that could outline the reasons for her selections and a suggestion of a controlling overarching shape for the collection. 

Keith Garebian has published 27 books to date, including eight poetry collections, such as Frida: Paint Me as a Volcano (2004), Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems (2008), Children of Ararat (2010), Poetry is Blood (2018), and Against Forgetting (2019). His chapbook of cancer poems, Scan, edited by Shane Neilson, has just been published by Frog Hollow Press in a limited edition of 100 copies, and next year he will have two new poetry collections forthcoming from Mawenzi House and Frontenac House. One of his Derek Jarman poems was set to music for choir and instruments by Gregory Spears, in the company of a poem each by Thomas Merton and Denise Levertov, and can be heard on the CD “The Tower and the Garden” (Navona Records). Some of his poems have been translated into French, Armenian, Hebrew, Bulgarian, and Romanian.



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