Norm Sibum’s poems are field notes from the end of empire, a satirist’s barbs, verse letters from a poet to his enemies and friends. He proceeds with reverent disillusionment (no one and nothing let off the hook), not so much along the streets of Montreal or Washington or Rome as along an irregular tetrameter line, and then another, and then another: waves breaking on a beach; or a poet, in spite of or because of all odds, again embarking. This is not a world in which there is comfort—and yet there is comfort in the rhythms. One must learn to read them aloud (to misquote Chesterton), without ever trusting them.
Born in Oberammergau in 1947, Norm Sibum grew up in Germany, Alaska, Missouri, Utah, and Washington. He has been a Montréaler since 1994. Along with Bruce Serafin, he founded the Vancouver Review in 1989 and published several collections of poetry in Canada and in England with Carcanet Press. His Girls and Handsome Dogs ( Porcupine’s Quill, 2002) won the Quebec Writer’s Federation A.M. Klein Award for Poetry. The Pangborn Defence (Biblioasis, 2008) was short-listed for the same award.
PRAISE FOR NORM SIBUM
“Kinetic and constantly surprising.”—The National Post
“Sibum’s antidote to middle-class sense of purpose is the meandering life, lingering on the boulevard—a kind of aristocratic rebellion.”—The Puritan
“The Traymore Rooms, a novel at once hugely ambitious and never above an off-colour crack … is going after a ‘Melvillian’ game: the decline and fall of the American Empire, by means of highbrow bedroom farce . . . it comes across with smarts and verve, and it’s no surprise to learn that our narrator’s a poet.”—John Domini, The Brooklyn Rail
“Sibum’s poems are not everyone’s cup of tea … instead of breathing air they inhale the exhaust of apocalyptic times.”—Books in Canada “The language, the focus on American politics and warfare, the contrarian dialogue with friends … gives way, just often enough, to rage . . . at how the century began.”—Gord Sellar
“Sibum has a natural gift of meditative narrative, a quite powerful instinctive sense of appropriate form, and a wonderful and diverse eloquence in the old sense of that word.”—Michael Schmidt
“This semi-epistolary form comes out of a long tradition made fresh in Sibum’s hands by his contemporary diction and topics, and by the undeniable energy, intelligence, and frankness of the poems. The book is a meditative rant, full of fire and play yanked up short by dead-seriousness.”—Western News
“He creates a very original kind of dialectic between present and past, in which each illuminates and penetrates the other…there is in his approach none of that bright postmodern cynicism that makes everything grist to the solipsistic mill of the present.”—Poetry Nation
“Dude can write.”—Ed Turner, Biblioklept