Monday, November 01, 2004

In the mail today...

A book of poems called Meditations that I had ordered from an antiquarian book store in Toronto. The book is by Fred Cogswell, a fine Canadian poet and a longtime editor of this country's longest running literary journal, The Fiddlehead (BTW, on that site, scroll down and read a fantastic poem by Elise Partridge, "Chameleon Hours.") Cogswell died this past summer and latest issue of The Fiddlehead has a number of tributes to him. One of them spoke of this book, and I was so intrigued I immediately searched the web and found a used copy. It's even signed by the author himself: "For Joy, with all good wishes, Fred Cogswell." Seems like a fitting and neutral dedication, especially since one of the poems in the book is entitled "Joy." But the remarkable thing about this book is that it's a collection of 50 sestinas. It seems to me that publishing a book of sestinas 20 years ago, when Everybody and their Dogs were writing free verse, took a lot of guts. But, as he writes in the first poem "[...] the house of poesy/ Has many rooms. The one most crowded now/ Is that you name [...]" (i.e., free verse).

The other Canadian poet I've been reading of late is Anne Hébert. In a used book store on St-Denis, I picked up a collection of her work published in 1960 called Poèmes. Unlike the copy of Meditations, this book has been read many times and isn't in nearly as good shape, but it's readable, and that's all that matters to me. One of her most well-known poems is Le tombeau des rois (disclaimer: since she died in 2000, I'm pretty sure her work is not yet in the public domain, so the web page I'm linking to may be breaking copyright, though then again, it may not be). There are several translations of this poem, but I'm just itching to do one of my own.

3 comments:

Radish King said...

Ranger, this poem is beautiful. I hope you *do* write a translation of it. I'd love to read it.

paula said...

Are you still travelling? There is work to do ;-)

Peter Garner said...

Hi Rebecca, glad you liked it. And I will have a go at it, just as soon as I crawl out from under the mountain of work that was just dropped from the stratosphere onto my poor ol' noggin'

Hi Paula, yes, travelling but back now, and I just sent a message about all the OTHER work to do.

Ciao bellas,

RT