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Poetry Canadian

Moving Day

by (author) Terence Young

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Initial publish date
Sep 2006
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2006
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In Moving Day , his impressive second collection of poetry, Terence Young bookends the fantastical with a series of lingering glances into his rear-view mirror and a few knowing observations on the journey so far. His subjects are those of every day: love, marriage, children, the inevitability of change. Some poems touch on the dreamy qualities of memory, its tendency to slip into the magical, and still others turn a quirky eye onto child-rearing, education, home repair. In Young's spirited poetry, the world can be both a dear and deceptive place. His is a landscape of conjecture about what is really going on, about the kind of doubt that is at its strongest when we first wake up and our dreams are still with us. In his world, an ordinary house can rise from its foundations and float over the horizon, taking its awe-struck, astonished occupants with it.

About the author

Terence Young recently retired from teaching English and creative writing at St. Michaels University School. He is a co-founder and former editor of The Claremont Review, an international literary journal for young writers. His first collection of poetry, The Island in Winter (Véhicule Press, 1999), was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Gerald Lampert Award. Since then, he has published several books: a collection of stories, Rhymes With Useless, which was one of two runners-up for the annual Danuta Gleed award; a novel, After Goodlake’s, which received the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize in 2005; and a second collection of poetry, Moving Day, which was nominated for both the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize in 2006. In 2008, he was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence. More recently he received a National Magazine Award for his poem “The Bear,” and was the 2019 winner of the Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest. Young lives in Victoria, BC.

Terence Young's profile page

Excerpt: Moving Day (by (author) Terence Young)

"Prelude to the Afternoon"

The deer tucks her legs under, hides them, not unlike a collapsible bridge table collapsing. From a perch on the hill, she looks about: moss, fir, slim Garry oak.

Her big lids shut for seconds at a time. Overhead a squirrel gathers acorns as fast as children gather quarters and dimes and fifty-cent pieces in their dreams.

Inclining, the deer twists off a stalk of grass, takes a bite and chews, only the breeze, the busy squirrel and a pair of stereophonic ravens to pull her from her brown study. Her mouth works fitfully, as though the scene has provoked an idea, prodded a memory, as though this is a period for reflection, an interlude:

a deer dealing with the day, coping with these hours that are everybody’s hours.

A roofer pausing, sound of the last nail fading. A strawberry picker at the end of one row, the next one not yet in her mind. A surfer between waves.

To think she is taking a break here. That she is resting the way others consider rest — a cessation, something other. She chooses to sit, to stand, to bend her head, and choice suggests a will, even if she wills no more than this.


"When You Become Young Again"

You think it will be familiar, that you will be barefoot, the soles of your feet near burning on a manhole cover as you walk to the beach, a last bite of popsicle still clinging to the stick.

Or that chimney smoke and snow will mix in the bright air of a November night next to a woodshed where you are kissing a girl whose touch, even through the thick wool of her mittens, carries the conviction of her choice.

You think you can predict the form your journey will take, how the past will appear to you, a dream you will one day learn to summon at will.

But instead you are here, outside Bakersfield, California, the power poles converging in front of you along Route 99, and the hills outside Los Angeles rising like memories from the hot air of a history you have never known.



We are the carcasses of insects, dry husks beneath the spider’s web. We are bits of broken shell that roll

in and out with the tide. We are the coins people dig out of the ground, then bury again in their top drawers.

We are animals who eat vitamins when our owners’ backs are turned. We are birds flying in through open

windows only to leave again, our beaks full. Because of us light spreads to the far corners of the earth. Because of us

the lakes reflect the sky back upon itself. Because of us the details of human commerce grow more complex.

We are children, anxious to pull out our own teeth. We are adulterers in city parks who force others from the path

in our self-absorption. We are civil servants, survivors of the Second World War. We wake up in the hour before

dawn as we have done every day for fifty years. We have never been to an institute of higher learning, and the moon

between office buildings has never looked bigger. As makers of prosthetic limbs, we reconsider the human form. In some

places we are lizards walking the streets. We are waiting for a change in the weather, some excuse to move on to the

next thing. At the market we haggle over the price of tomatoes. We test-drive brand new automobiles and order books through

our computers. Charities come to our houses. We give them sacks of old clothes and promise more next week.

Under our sidewalks, the earth continues to heave. We stuff shopping lists into our jacket pockets. They are the only diary

that accurately reflects our lives. If there were a mirror in which we could see ourselves, it would show a portrait of

a family, vacation over, bags and suitcases already unpacked.

Editorial Reviews

“ This West Coast poet is most interesting when he verges into daydream and fantasy, and becomes imagistically venturesome.”

—The Globe & Mail

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