Grounding Sight

126 pages,
ISBN: 092185224x

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Brief Reviews - Poetry
by rob mclennan

Someone once described D.G. Jones as a modernist with a postmodernist bent. Or perhaps it was the other way around. Jones' range of influences is broad, and his poems are so densely packed that even a mere turn of phrase could slice a brain in half. In his most recent collection, Grounding Sight (Empyreal, 126 pages, $14.95 paper, ISBN: 0-921852-24-X), published two years after his brilliant and oft-underrated Wild Asterisks in Cloud, Jones forgoes the serial poem he's done so well in recent years in favour of short, singular bursts within a uniform whole. He even starts the book with "Reader Beware, or a Preface", asking

little postmodern soul, how

do you get through your days

or not

like the runner, the dancer, the skater, the bird

who wings it

He thereby frames the book in an arbitrary and deliberately contradictory panel.

Jones' vision is unique. He gets as much out of a Ralph Gustafson poem as an Erin Mouré piece or even Steve McCaffery:

his anguage fowts the aw of the father

at east in his speing

ike pig atin

("Steve McCaffery on Pataphysics")

On reading Stephanie Bolster (in a veiled reference to the mother tongue press chapbook, Inside a Tent of Skin, later collected in her M&S book, Two Bowls of Milk), he writes:

she wears her skin like a negligee

of lucid air, as if the out

were in, all soul

or humours

("Wears Skin")

Jones' poems leap marvellously from electrical point to point, merging pop, historical, and mythological culture, such as Ariadne and the Philharmonic in the poem, "Live from Lincoln Center": "girls betrayed to islands seldom/siong so well". Even in his deceptively modernist-sounding pieces, he spins on the postmodern lyric dime, linking non sequiturs, such as in "A Table Overlooking the River":

so-and-so died, someone

went south -I mean

the repetition, I mean the quoi, quoi, quoi

between courses

dining out

Or in "Adieu Imagisme":

as if presence

were clutched in these feathers, you

passing to words

this screed

congealed on the page

Writing in both English and French, Jones has the ability to absorb a varied range of influence and parts of the world around him into his own particular sphere, occasionally picking up someone else's ball-whether Bolster, Eric Miller or Mouré-running with it, and making it his own. Any number of camps and tastes might be allowed in. He is one of the few poets capable of pure, meditative steps. As he writes in "Praise",

to button up is seemly, to

unbutton, step

seemingly without art into

nothing, is grace 


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