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Cartography and Walking

by Adam Dickinson

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Shortlisted for the 2003 Henry Kreisel Award for Best First Book (Writers Guild of Alberta Award)

Without you,
I have taken to drawing maps
on the backs of photographs.
On the coast in a raincoat
your smile has been dented by a lake,
the fluting arms of rivers
have made your shoulders
look like the bark of birches.

from “Cartographer”

In Cartography and Walking, Adam Dickinson charts his own listening — an acute listening of eye and ear, a listening with both body and mind. “Cartography” is more than a metaphor for him, it’s a way of being. It is how we dwell in the world, and how intimacy enriches such dwelling. Yet “cartography” is the presiding metaphor, the structure of this book; in giving it such a place, Dickinson reminds the reader of that very human impulse to plot, to imagine. Each poem is itself a kind of mapping, through language and sound, through minute observation, until land, love, and everyday life are given new embodiment, are newly discovered, and a reader finds new countries in strangely familiar settings.

“There is a generous, ingenious listening in Adam Dickinson’s Cartography and Walking — bats, houses, bears, killdeer, honey kept under the sink, atlases open on a floor. The things seem to become themselves in this hearing. The world the ear holds in these poems is a good place to stand.” – Tim Lilburn

“The supple voice in Adam Dickinson’s poetry distills the complexities of emotion and intellect into a clarity of phrasing and metaphor. One hopes for readers who listen half as carefully to the subtleties of his poetry as he listens to the world he evokes. For Adam Dickinson, cartography provides the imaginative contour lines for mapping the features of a colloquy between human experience and the natural world, a world at once familiar and strange, that we call home.” – Ross Leckie

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About the Author

Adam Dickinson is a professor of poetry and poetics at Brock University. His first book, Cartography and Walking, was shortlisted for an Alberta Book Award. He lives in St. Catharines.  

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