by John Barton


Buy eBook

Nominated for Gay Poetry (2009 Lambda Literary Awards)

A journey in search of love through the contemporary homoerotic male body.

Improvising on a variety of poetic forms and traversing disparate landscapes – from Belfast to the clear-cuts of Vancouver Island, from the subterranean heat of Jules Verne’s Iceland to the ventriloquism of the Alberta Rockies’ echoing eastern slopes – John Barton documents the path of the male body in an increasingly unstable, supposedly tolerant contemporary world. Hymn stokes the fires of homoerotic romantic love with its polar extremes of intimacy and solitude.

…though he files all forethought of the unknown life now going

on without him, a life he confuses with his own, his life promiscuous
however rearranged his surfaces or clean his drawers, the unclarifying

distractions of the body portentous in his downfall, the downfall
of his own body a matter of time, but thinking of the man who left

the accidental man come between them, the man he may yet become
it is impossible for him not to sing them unwashed hymns of praise.

– from “Hymn”

“It would be easy to describe Hymn as a collection of dream recitations, of flights on magic carpets and crashes through bewitched mirrors-except for the fact that Barton is an eyes-wide-open, no-prisoners kind of guy. He misses nothing, not even when he’s asleep. This is not dreamy poetry (anybody can do that) but poetry that asks us to dream in the bald daylight, shows us how to look lovingly at both the squalor and the garden paths beneath our feet.” – R.M. Vaughan

2nd printing


More Reviews


About the Author

John Barton's previous books include Great Men, Designs from the Interior, Sweet Ellipsis, and Hypothesis. West of Darkness: Emily Carr, a self-portrait, his acclaimed third book, was republished in a bilingual edition in 2006. Co-editor of Seminal: The Anthology of Canada's Gay Male Poets, he lives in Victoria. Barton edits The Malahat Review. Hymn is…

More about John Barton

Additional Info

  • ISBN: 1-894078-76-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-894078-76-4
  • Pages: 144
  • Year: 2009
  • Dimensions 6 x 8.75 in
  • Category: ,
  • Cover Art:

    Three Boys by Attila Richard Lukacs, 1998

Also from Brick Books