Orrery is a collection that orbits around the theme of Pioneer 10, an American space probe launched in 1972 to study Jupiter’s moons. Having achieved many firsts before reaching Jupiter and a few more after being hurled away from the solar system, the probe was retired in 2003 when NASA stopped sending signals to it, leaving it to wander alone through deep space.
On a trajectory that may long outlast Earth, Pioneer has transformed from a finite object into an infinite one, a muddling of the mundane and the sublime, of mortality and immortality, that is echoed throughout the collection: “I could have been a dancer, a stunt double, / and you, Pioneer 10, a pop can, a pie plate, / a gear driving the orrery of all you sail beyond.” Inhabiting the perceived imaginative and philosophical space of the probe, Kane’s poems ignite a radical empathy in which human beings, caterpillars, stars, animal bones and other hunks of the material stuff of the universe are seen to share a common condition.
Exploring ideas of materiality, consciousness, transformation and space travel, Orrery is as exquisite as its namesake, a compact vision of our world that helps us to orient ourselves in time and space, inspiring wonder.
About the author
Donna Kane, a recipient of the Aurora Award of Distinction: Arts and Culture, is the current executive director of the Peace Liard Regional Arts Council and co-founder of Writing on the Ridge (a non-profit society that has, for over twenty years, organized arts festivals, literary readings, artist retreats and writer-in-residence programs). Her work has appeared in journals and magazines across Canada. She is the author of two previous poetry titles, Somewhere, a Fire and Erratic (Hagios Press, 2004 and 2007) and the memoir Summer of the Horse (Harbour Publishing, 2018). She divides her time between Rolla, BC, and Halifax, NS.
Tasty Vivid WritingI've been waiting 13 years for Donna Kane's next book and I'm relieved to be not disappointed.
Her ideas and metaphors are exciting and fresh, "catkins sealed inside/hulls that shine like polished caskets,/like taxidermy eyes" (p.38).
Her mind is alert, moving among all the magnitudes from a dull fly spinning on its back to Jupiter to gaps between one person's inner life and another. "My mother believes is she doesn't believe, /her prayers will be answered. What kind of god is that? /One who enjoys a good cry" (p. 46).
She goes deeper and more dextrous in her already vivid phrasing. Billed attractively as a space probe poems her poems are also of earth and of family, "The answer is out there, I know, / but something generous keeps holding it back" (p. 45).
The poems are not sentimental, not blunt, but inquiring, measuring, testing the ground of words, avoiding confirmation bias or pat answers, but delving into sharp observation.