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Don't Expect the Sun to Shine

A Wake for Robin Blaser

by (author) Richard E. Rathwell

adapted by Harold Rhenisch

8th House Publishing
Initial publish date
Mar 2023
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price

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Authors Richard Rathwell and Harold Rhenisch offer a new perspective on the works of the late American-Canadian poet Robin Blaser, who taught a generation of Canadian poets the techniques of blowing apart meaning, deriving significance from the arrangement of text on the page, and using pages as cloud chamber bowls. “Don’t Expect the Sun to Shine: A Wake for Robin Blaser” is a record of the wake held in Blaser’s honor, offering readers an opportunity to wander through the literary landscape he’s left behind.

Don’t Expect the Sun to Shine responds to three ongoing trends in the development of written language in the age of images: the treatment of words as images in art writing, the evolution of criticism as a form of creativity that fails its potential because it remains enslaved to the academy, and the contemporary world of narrative fiction, which sees fictional worlds as the greatest truths, enjoys being dominated by normative narratives, and treats characters as clothing taken on for public display. These were called poems, but they were really scripts to tease the cognitive patterns of biological readers. Unlike book-based poetry, they did not interact with the technological constraints of books but with the neurological constraints of humans. Their purpose was to turn space into time. Their purpose was to stop death. Every poem was a wake.

Novels have become self-help, identity racks in a mall that you page through to find the one that fits. Then you wear it. — Harold Rhenisch

In Don’t Expect the Sun to Shine, Rathwell and Rhenisch turn time back into space.

We want readers to wander around wherever they like. We don’t control their hike. Their biological history does that. We are just hosting a party, so they can meet. — Harold Rhenisch

A fitting tribute to Robin Blaser, his life’s work, and his influence on Canadian poetry. “Don’t Expect the Sun to Shine: A Wake for Robin Blaser” is a must-read for poetry enthusiasts and those interested in the intersection of literature and art.


About the authors

RICHARD RATHWELL was born in Ottawa, ON, in 1944. A student of Robin Blaser and Jerry Zazlov at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, Rathwell was arrested for his active life leading political organizations which ran afoul with authorities. Denounced in Parliament as a revolutionary for his involvement in the Gastown Riots, Rathwell has since taught English in Canada, Ireland, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho, and has worked in development aid in conflict areas, serving as international operations director of large NGO’s based in Vienna and London. Rathwell has channelled his experiences into poetry, children’s drama, short stories and novels, which have been published in Canada, the US, UK, Ireland, and Albania, and have won various national awards in Ireland, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. He is currently a Doctoral candidate at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK, and divides his time between London and Southern France.

Richard E. Rathwell's profile page

Harold Rhenisch is an award-winning poet, critic, and cultural commentator. His awards include the Confederation Poetry Prize in 1991 and the BC #38: Yukon Community Newspapers Association Award for Best Arts and Culture Writing in 1996. He is a seven-time runner-up for the CBC/Tilden/Saturday Night Literary Contest. In 2005, he won the ARC Magazine Critics Desk Award for best long poetry review and the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize for "Abandon." He won this prize again in 2007 for "The Bone Yard." His non-fiction book Tom Thomson's Shack was short-listed for two BC Book Prizes in 2000. For its sequel, The Wolves at Evelyn, he won the 2007 George Ryga Award for Social Responsibility in Literature. He is the author of 32 books of poetry, fiction, biography and essays and choreographed Richard Rathwell’s Human Nation for the paper stage. Along with the Norwegian Olav Hauge, he is one of the two poets in the world who learned to write and edit poems by pruning fruit trees, an experience documented in his The Tree Whisperer (Gaspereau, 2021). A direct heir of Bertolt Brecht’s theater, through the dissident playwright and novelist Stefan Schütz, whose radio play Peyote he translated and published, he has invented a theatrical set of cross-genre literary interventions. He has secretly edited and mentored over a hundred writers in the hinterlands of Canada unserved by its university and publishing system and is currently writing a transcultural natural history curriculum and a history of British Columbia centred in the Indian Wars of the American West.

Harold Rhenisch's profile page

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