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Poetry Canadian


with Patrick Friesen

Anvil Press
Initial publish date
May 2023
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price

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Reckoning is one long poem in search of itself, its own meaning. A synecdoche of verse, segments calling and responding to each other, like jazz musicians riffing back and forth in a late-night smokey speakeasy. Snippets of conversation make it through the air, across the space that seems vast even in its closeness. We are big, we are small, there is eternity in a birdcall. This is end times, yet beginnings surround us. They are there in memory, in grief, in happiness and in song.

Here is a master poet taking stock in later years. Adrift and grounded, lost in memories that are alive in the present and also lost to history, the artist's mind cannot help but speculate and wonder about the navigation of it all. How does one chart the course? How did one chart the course? And what was discovered along the way? Joy, awe, grief, loss, wonder . . . "disappearing into the mind of the dream, / that opening," and now all rolled into one ball of what, wisdom?

"what was my early life, banging away at that padlocked gate?

. . .

is this where

the return begins? starting over in old age, body

falling apart according to plan, and no blossoming

wisdom, kneeling on the muddy riverbank, thirsty

once again for mind,

. . .

and when

the brain falters the stories skew once more into

something unfamiliar, something from long before

you, and those pieces won't be put together again,

not ever, will they?"

What connects us with the past?&nbspMemory and story.&nbspEach fragment a part of the whole. Without it we exist in isolation.&nbspFriesen's deep and careful observations make Reckoning both intensely personal and universal.

About the author

Patrick Friesen is the author of Blasphemer's Wheel, winner of the Manitoba Book of the Year Award and runner-up for the Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award. A Broken Bowl was short-listed for the Governor General's Award. His most recent work st. mary at main was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. He has also written for stage, radio, TV and film. He lives in Vancouver where he teaches writing.

Patrick Friesen's newest collection Carrying the Shadow is a haunting ode to the lives we have felt too briefly, known only in passing and yearn to hold still. While those who loved them keen softly between his lines, Friesen invokes their loss as one remembers a cool breath on the back of the neck, a faint shadow on a headstone, a watermark on the bedstand. With wisdom and beauty and invention, Friesen walks us through the graveyard of human kind where a symphony of voices still conduct the lives left behind long after they depart flesh for spirit. Intermingling prose poems and traditional free verse, Friesen both narrates and sings the stories of absence and forgetting, tales of lingering memory and fleeting love. With infinite candor and sensitivity, Friesen celebrates the lives of idols and iconoclasts, wives and widows, farmers and freeloaders. For anyone who has urged another title in the canon of Friesen's award-winning work, here is a collection worthy of accolade. Death has no dominion, but poetry has dominion over all.

Patrick Friesen's profile page

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