first snow falling slow hangs in the air a curtain drifting there thickening sight —“Winter”
In this new collection, Douglas Barbour experiments with what he calls “rhythmically intense open form.” Listen. If presents technically innovative poetry that invites the reader to join in some serious play. Barbour’s vivid, ekphrastic poems engage an ongoing conversation among artworks—not only classic paintings but also popular music—while his lyric poems astutely, accessibly evoke places, moments, and feelings. This is poetry that takes up language both as the already-said and as a playground for brilliant technique. Leaping from love to landscapes, politics to jazz, Keats to Milne to Monk, these poems yearn to be spoken aloud for the pure joy of sound.
About the author
Douglas Barbour is a professor in the Department of English, University of Alberta, where he teaches creative writing, modern poetry, Canadian Literature, and science fiction and fantasy. His critical books include studies of poets Daphne Marlatt, John Newlove, and bpNichol (all ECW Press 1992), and Michael Ondaatje (Twayne 1993). Volumes of poetry includeVisible Visions Selected Poems (NeWest Press 1984),Story for a Saskatchewan Night (rdcpress 1989),Fragmenting Body etc (NeWest Press 2000) and, most recently,Lyric/Antilyric (NeWest Press 2001).
# 8 on Edmonton Fiction Bestsellers list, April 23, 2017
"In Barbour’s latest, there are some elements familiar through much of his work, from meditations to memorials, his ongoing engagements with world politics, and lines and narrative-threads composed with breaks of breath in and among.... There is a precision that Barbour writes out in each short breath-take, clipped and clear, even as the accumulation of those words and phrases come together to form a narrative both distinct and nebulous." [Full post at http://robmclennan.blogspot.ca/2017/04/douglas-barbour-listen-if.html]
Listen. If is Douglas Barbour’s first book of poetry in over a decade and includes work that was produced over a twenty year period. That extended period of production has some interesting effects on the text.... The past becomes an ironic counterpoint to the present, a space where the concerns of the present are revealed not necessarily to be a repetition of the past so much as a series of re-iterations altered by task of memory. Lis]en. If is a book about memory and remembering. It is reflective and reflexive, a collection marked by meditation. The objects of meditation which include the seasons, love, art, jazz recordings, and memory shift throughout the book, but serve to ground the reader’s experiences in instances and talismans of remembering.... [W]orth reading.' Prairie Fire, May 30, 2018 [Full review at http://www.prairiefire.ca/listen-if-by-douglas-barbour]
Ryan J. Cox