Afloat, John Reibetanz's eighth collection of poetry, focuses on water in many manifestations. The centerpiece, a sequence on the Three Gorges Dam and its cultural and environmental implications, brings ancient Chinese sources (Meng Chiao and the painter Dong Yuan) together with modern ones (Edward Burtynsky's photographs and violent video games) to create an elegy that is moving and meditative.
Although water is everywhere present as a subject, it is song that provides the motivating power, the vehicle of longing that animates the book. "We thirst for song"Ñthe closing words of the Lament for the Gorges sequenceÑcould really serve as the book's epigraph. This is poetry exercising its full range of possible functions (to observe, to enquire, to elegize, to imagine, to think, to commemorate, to yearn and to feel), all in the service of that "thirst for song."
About the author
John Reibetanz was born in New York City, and grew up in the eastern United States and Canada. He put himself through university by working at numerous non-poetic jobs, and is probably the only member of the League of Canadian Poets to have belonged to the Amalgamated Meatcutters Union. A finalist for both the National Magazine Awards (Canada) and the National Poetry Competition (United States), he has given readings of his poetry in most major cities in North America. His poems have appeared in such magazines as Poetry (Chicago), The Paris Review, Canadian Literature, The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, The Southern Review, and Quarry. His fifth collection, Mining For Sun (Brick Books, 2000), was shortlisted for the ReLit Poetry Award; his sixth, Near Relations, was published by McClelland and Stewart in 2005. In 2003 he was awarded First Prize in the international Petra Kenney Poetry Competition. John Reibetanz lives in Toronto with his wife and three children, and he teaches at Victoria College, University of Toronto, where he received the first Victoria University Teaching Award. In addition to poetry, he has written essays on Elizabethan drama and on modern and contemporary poetry, as well as a book on King Lear and a book of translations of modern German poetry. When he is not writing or teaching, he bicycles, kayaks, reads local history, and listens passionately to 1930s jazz.
"The cosmopolitan, lyrical meditations in Afloat, John Reibetanz's eighth collection, are reminders that humankind also has a capacity for beauty" -- Barbara Carey, Toronto Star
"[A] feast for all who love transfigurative, transformative poetry." -- George Elliott Clarke, Halifax Chronicle-Herald
"These poems ... gesture toward exceeding their bounds, to discovery not as colonization but as encounter ... Afloat aims to renew and to revitalize poetic resonance." -- Kevin McNeilly, EVENT