Review of Bite Down Little Whisper
From Mike Landry , Telegraph-Journal, September 7, 2013

Bite Down Little Whisper by Don Domanski (Brick, 107 pages)

The Governor-General’s Literary Award jury lauded Halifax-based poet Don Domanski’s previous book of poetry, the award-winning, All Our Wonder Unavenged, as “ a deeply moving vision about the intricacies of the everyday world. A spiritual and metaphysical triumph.” His latest, Bite Down Little Whisper, lives up to this praise, with stunningly beautiful metaphors that continue his charge of articulating what he’s called witnessing the moments of “the metamorphoses from object to presence.” Yet, Domanski takes a turn in many of these new poems, often finding “there is no metaphor for such inflictions.”

Although Domanski continues to evoke the “self-luminous” nature of the world, his focus – particularly in Foresight by Earth, the first of the book’s three sections – is the sad contrast of his insight and humanity’s ignorance of the everyday. In these poems, Domanski isn’t just removing “the blindfold wrapped loosely/ around landscape and sinew” to reveal potential and trigger linguistic epiphanies. Domanski is also ruminating on “the world of the long cloth,” wherein “a sky like an amalgam of mercury and tin applied to the backs/ of mirrors everything on earth reflected back to itself/ everyone anonymous at least once a day/ the 21st century growing like bright apples on dark branches/ coddled with meaning polished and red cardio red/ each carrying cyanide in their seeds little pills for the voyage.”

The beauty in these poems is far more bittersweet, of loss amid our modern plastic paradise that’s becoming a digital dream. The result is a poetry of pertinence. That Domanski can whittle such wonder and till such truths from the world is not proof of an essential nature of creation; it’s an incredible discordance that serves to highlight how far his representation is from reality. He writes,“I told the first nouns there/ were no verbs the language believed me/ and the language fell down.”

Indeed, language will yield, but Bite Down Little Whisper reads in parts as a Domanski’s abdication in the face of an unyielding humanity: “no surprise that days and nights remain out/ of reach drained by our mission creep towards extinction by our/ ignorance of givenness no wonder we walk about each day partially erased/ that we’re unfaithful to the cosmogenic laze of protoplasm to the vaulting/ of baleen little bell of grass queue of bloodroot holding the wingbeats/ of carinates till they’re born.”

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