Strike/Slip by Don McKay, of Newfoundland, combines living creatures, geology and industry into lovely poems that somehow make the ugly beautiful and bring the natural world–whether pristine or deeply damaged–to life. I loved it, and can tell already that this is a book and a poet I will come back to many times. It won the 2007 Griffin Prize in Canada, and deservedly so, though truth be told I haven’t yet read a Griffin winner I haven’t loved.
having been possessed by every verb–
been rush been drip been
geyser eddy fountain rapid drunk
evaporated frozen pissed
into itself and sit.
were to find a nice brown pond
to gaze in: would the course of self-love
run so smooth with that exquisite face
rendered in bruin undertone,
shaken, and floated in the murk
between the deep sky and the ooze?
As a lover of ponds and all the life that supports itself in the murk and the ooze, I can’t tell you how much I loved those lines. It’s true, ponds are humbling. Beautiful, but resolutely not majestic.
Lovers (and likers) of nature poetry will find much to love and reread in this collection.