In his brilliant third collection, award-winning and critically-acclaimed poet Ken Babstock finds momentary stays against our gathering darknesses in the irrepressible, acrobatic, free play of the mind. Poems of conscience collide with the problems of consciousness, the concrete and the conceptual find equal footing, and formal beauty mixes with imagistic brinksmanship as the speaker attempts to leave our "homes half-sheathed Tyvek" and "drift into the pain of our neighbours." Like Babstock's earlier work, Airstream Land Yacht testifies to the harrowing beauty of everyday experience ("a leather recliner star /gazing on the free /side of a yard fence," "shopping /carts growing a fur of frost," a grounded kite "nose down in the crowberries and fir") while introducing an expansiveness of inquiry with linguistic bravado and a quiet grace. The clutch of love poems contained here are key to unlocking the larger collection -- itself a love song to the wordless world.
Ken Babstock is the author of Airstream Land Yacht, which was a finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award, won the Trillium Book Award, and was a Globe and Mail Top 100 book; Days into Flatspin, which was shortlisted for the Winterset Award for Excellence in Newfoundland Writing; and Mean, which won the Atlantic Poetry Prize and the Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award. Ken Babstock lives in Toronto, Ontario.
...one of the most daring, progressive, frustrating, and exhilarating poetry books in years.
...more contemplative, more world-weary, more overtly philosophical (than Mean)....the love poems in this book are a real accomplishment.
In Babstock's work there is a sense of down-home intellectual, country tunes that David Bowie might compose.
Babstock's ear remains finely attuned. Always adept at capturing speech cadences, in these new poems he plumbs as much from the jumpy rhythms of thought, and what gets sacrificed in accessibility is more than made up for in surprise...Babstock's courageous lack of complacency in deviating so drastically from his excellent past work confirms him as one of the country's finest poets.
Reading Ken Babstock is like following the trunk of a tree upward as it divides and subdivides, fraying into the finest threads until a beautiful but complex circuitry webs the sky. Simply put, he makes the brain hurt, forcing us to exert that dusty 90 per cent we rarely use....a seductive, exquisitely crafted look at the overlay of the wordless visible world and the conscious act of mapping that world.
As Auden was to the English 1930's, so too is Ken Babstock to the Canadian 2000's - the key figure of the under-40's generation...perhaps the most important poetry book yet from any Canadian born in the 1970's or beyond...a hauntingly thoughtful meditation on awareness and responsibility for others.
Ken Babstock is no regular middle-of-the-pack poet...there's almost a tactile pleasure in how words sound, and a multitude of striking phrases vivid to both the ear and the eye...Airstream Land Yacht is poetry that hums along in high gear.