Arcing across thirty years and seven volumes, Jan Zwicky’s poetry has always been acutely musical (and sensitive to the silence out of which music comes). In the compositions in Chamber Music, the first anthology of Zwicky’s poems, one may perceive the attunement of her vocations: poet, philosopher, violinist. Her poetry both praises and relinquishes the earth, bearing witness to the fierce skies of the prairies and the freezing rain of the West Coast. Enacting the virtue of clarity prized and defended by her explicitly philosophical work, this poetry is both resonant and integrated. It is also formally diverse, ranging from the singular focus of the lyric ode to suites of variations and fugal structures, from polyphonic textures to the sprawling reach of narrative gestures. Throughout, one feels the deft hand of an adept using powerful metaphors to explore themes of colonial violence, environmental devastation, spiritual catastrophe, and transformation.
Resisting Western philosophy’s exclusion of imagination from civic life, Zwicky’s poetry is noteworthy for the tension it achieves between the abstract and the personal, the general and the particular. Meditating repeatedly on themes of love and grief, this poetry is at once passionately committed to the lucidity of its utterances and the fidelity of its images.
About the authors
Jan Zwicky is an accomplished poet, philosopher and musician whose intense and vivid lyricism imbues her poetry with music and passion. Born in Calgary, Alberta, Zwicky studied at the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto before undertaking an academic career teaching philosophy at a number of North American institutions. She is also a professional musician, with an active interest in baroque performance technique. Zwicky is a prolific essayist, as well as the author of a dozen books. Her works have won her the Governor General's Award (Songs For Relinquishing the Earth, 1998) and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (Robinson's Crossing, 2004) as well as many other accolades and shortlist nominations. Zwicky lives on Quadra Island, British Columbia.
Darren Bifford is the author of the chapbooks Wolf Hunter (Cactus Press, 2010), Hermit Crab (Baseline Press, 2014), and The Age of Revolution (Anstruther Press, 2017). His first full-length collection was Wedding in Fire Country (Nightwood Editions, 2012). He co-edited (with Warren Heiti) Chamber Music: The Poetry of Jan Zwicky (Wilfred Laurier Press, 2015). Originally from Summerland, BC, he lived and taught in Montreal for many years, where he also coordinated the Atwater Poetry Project. He has recently moved with his family to Penticton, BC.
Warren Heiti lives in Halifax, where he has taught at Dalhousie University and St. Mary’s University. He is currently a teaching fellow at the University of King’s College. He is the author of Hydrologos (2011).
Other titles by Jan Zwicky
Once upon a Time in the West
Essays on the Politics of Thought and Imagination
Sixty-Seven Ontological Studies
49 Poems and 18 Photographs
The Collected Poetry of Carol Shields
The Experience of Meaning
Learning to Die
Wisdom in the Age of Climate Crisis
The Long Walk
Essays in Philosophy
Wisdom & Metaphor
Selections from the Rime Spirituali with Photographs of Josep Maria Subirachs? Passion Façade