This Was The River is the twentieth book published by John Pass. The collection consists of lyrics, usually not more than a page and a half, shaped mostly into couplets or tercets, for an airy, spare feel. In the collection—often within a single poem—Pass weaves his preoccupations with writing (his own and others’), family, aging, and the state of the natural world. The work’s meticulous technique reflects his deep experience.
In the presence of something awe-inspiring, whether it’s music, painting, theatre, dance or writing, one part of me looks for design while another just surrenders. I experienced both impulses reading Russell Thornton’s The Broken Face: it was so beautiful I had to surrender, but I also had to seek a design so I could comprehend its beauty.
When I was in my early 20s, I took a day trip from my hometown of Belleville, ON to Ameliasburg, where Al Purdy once lived on Roblin Lake in his now-famous A-frame. He built the cabin with his wife, Eurithe, as James Arthur writes in “Al Purdy’s House,” “by hand / with no experience of carpentry / using salvaged lumber and whatever materials you (Purdy) could find.” Unable to find the house, I stopped to ask a local man who was leaning against his pickup, smoking a cigarette. Flicking the butt over his shoulder, he replied, “Why the fuck would you want to get to that old drunk’s place?”
David Zieroth’s latest book of poetry, “the bridge from day to night,” begins with the daily observations of a poet crossing the Second Narrows Bridge on his route to and from work. Included in the first section are everyday scenes from a typical Vancouver commute―a man curled up on the sidewalk, ships passing under a bridge, a few blades of grass growing in a crack, and an unexpected run-in with an aggressive dog―but Zieroth skillfully takes these observations past their obvious conclusions and lands the reader someplace unexpected: