House on the Rock and the Little Boat That Almost Sank/Cassette

by Stephen Hume
104 pages,
ISBN: 9992349778

Post Your Opinion

In "Coming to poetry," Stephen Hume offers several spectacular and intense images for poetic revelation, then concludes:
But it was none of these things
Only the click of a door opening.
The dull lick of a door and beyond It
a dusty yard. .A single chicken raiding
dry milkweed, brittle as the blue
Sky over gnarled juniper.
Hume is not just an imagist, but this essentially imagistic aesthetic is the basis for his strongest and most effective poems. Though he occasionally lapses into jingly moralizing ("Armageddon"), at his best he offers some superbly crafted lyrical renderings of experience.
His world is full of light, sir, and the wide horizons of prairie and foothill and mountain meadow, bat it is darkened by an awareness of the ironies of history and of suffering and death. The title points us in several directions: the Image of land as ocean suggests immensity unmarked by human efforts, and it connects with a prairie tradition of landscape description that reaches back through Stegner and Sinclair Ross to William Francis Butler. As it turns out, though, this image also means a longing for a past when such a sinking was possible, when man's works really were impermanent and easily overwhelmed. In the present, the city is "this anvil / dropped into the country/... Something brutal / something to make/ woodlands sag and rattle." Oceans also suggest another prairie obsession, time and the "tides of history" whose "currents catch [men], turn them in the dark/ until they flash like silver,"
The book's affirmations occur with the triumph of the natural and non-logical, such as the momentary glimpse of "Prairie panther. / Thought extinct," which exists in defiance of "reasonable disbelief." Another is the appearance at the centre of a parabolic satellite receiver of "a single /blackbird singing / praises at the sky." Hume can be funny; elegiac, ironic, celebratory, and reflective; he knows what he's doing, and it's almost always worth doing.

Home First Novel Award Past Winners Subscription Back Issues Timescroll Advertizing Rates
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers List Books in Issue Books in Department About Us