The time of your life
Reviewed by Christine Borsuk (Chapters.Indigo.ca - June 3, 2010)
This slender book contains the poetic telling of about 50 occasions lived by the poet over a span of 8 years. Each poem puts into words both an inner and an outer event, the outside and inside meeting, interpenetrating, their duality explored; a transcendence perhaps sought, fleetingly attained. We strive with the poet to comprehend, to somehow embrace our existence in its ungraspable totality, with all its complexity and contradictions. And if pain and the inevitabilities that have the power to take us to the brink of despair infuse many of the lines, it’s because their ubiquitous presence can’t be avoided if we are fully alive and fully human. I gradually found myself warming to the author’s honesty, becoming grateful to him for deeply honouring these realities, for not providing answers to the unanswerable questions, understanding to that which will not be fathomed. As for the more comforting frequencies informing our lives, awe and wonder, appreciation, courage, generosity: we stay open to them, acknowledge and welcome them as we would a grace given; and attending to them we find that we partake of the bittersweet awareness of beauty, of ‘the simple, hopeless love of being here’.
I found these verses to be brimming over with a humanity born of a profound love for and empathy with creation / existence. The imagery is vivid, direct, exquisitely sensitive but never sentimentalized, unfurling implacably, challenging us to experience nature—including our own, the human variety—more mindfully. These lines may stay with you your lifetime long: explore their nooks and crannies, turn over stones untouched for years, tune in to the harmonies as, through its perceptions of the natural world, the poetry sings our deepest selves back to us.
Do experience the poems directly, through your own psyche, not reviewers’: reading about a poem instead of reading the poem itself is like trying to experience the wind by listening to a weather report or hoping to appreciate a poplar bud by seeing it in a guidebook. Find the verses for yourself. And take your time with them: allow the words to circulate through you (and notice, next day, how the molecules of your bodymind shake out). Do not hurry to finish, to put yet another volume behind you, for, in the poet’s words, ‘spirit expands to fill the time allotted’.