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Poetry Women Authors

A Brief and Endless Sea

by (author) Barbara Pelman

Caitlin Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
Women Authors
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
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Born out of waiting out the lockdown during the early days of the pandemic, Barbara Pelman’s A Brief and Endless Sea explores the concept of ‘gaps’: those moments of nothingness that are paradoxically full of potential. Many of the poems are rooted in Jewish tradition: the Angel Purah who cuts the ties between soul and body; the prophet Isaiah’s words of comfort; the concept of “Tsimtsum,” a withdrawal in order to create space for something new. The poems in A Brief and Endless Sea reach toward a potential built from seeming emptiness; Pelman mines the depths, taking us to difficult places—the dissolution of a marriage, caring for a parent with dementia. But she doesn’t leave us there, waiting. Using the power of words to map a route out, A Brief and Endless Sea pulls us toward life in all of its vibrant details—the simple beauty of a small garden of tomatoes and roses, the pleasures of teaching high school and university English classes, long walks with a grandson, and encounters with spirituality. For Pelman, there is comfort in the making of a poem and in the “smallest life you can love.” Like the glosa form she turns to often, something small transforms into something larger, expansive. In A Brief and Endless Sea, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and waiting in itself presents fertile ground for hope and possibility.

About the author

For many years Barbara Pelman has taught English at high school and college, primarily in B.C. Born in Vancouver, she has degrees from the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto. She has been an active participant in the Victoria writing community: as a member of the Random Acts of Poetry team, a regular reader at Planet Earth Poetry, and the instigator of Victoria's â??Poetry Walls,â? created by her students, in the downtown core. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals, including Event, Fiddlehead, Antigonish Review, Dalhousie Review, and CV2. This is her second book of poetry, following One Stone published in 2005 by Ekstasis Editions.

Barbara Pelman's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Carol Ann Duffy says, ‘If you are faithful to the imaginative memory of your place, it will be true.’ Here in A Brief and Endless Sea, Barbara Pelman is faithful to memory, imagination and the craft and form of poetry. Also, to the facts of ‘the enormity of the world’s grief,’ as The Talmud states, and the importance of poetry’s song in and against that enormity. As her father says in ‘Chopin Piano Concert #1, Adagio’, ‘Listen, as the music fades.’ Listen also, for what comes next, what bird, what golden curl of hair, what essential moment in the places of our lives.”

—Yvonne Blomer, author of The Last Show on Earth and Book of Places

“Barbara Pelman writes, ‘And seldom is there comfort,’ yet these poems, reaching back into the past and tentatively touching the future, do comfort the reader with their tenderness, wisdom, and grace.”

—Lorna Crozier

Other titles by Barbara Pelman