In her debut collection, Slide, Barbara Myers plays with the eternal present, the nunc stans, taking us through time and space, over three continents, where people, places and events continue to co-exist in memory and in the body. "Instructions for the Era of Water" is the opening poem in a series focusing on the mysteries of change, evanescence and renewal. Here, where "the sea has taken its place leaning against the wall," Myers contemplates "floating settlements" and "amphibious houses." In another poem, a family takes summer swims while soldiers train across the river in Petawawa for duty in Afghanistan. Other poems explore science, cats and paradox--even the curse of corn on genetic modifiers. By turns playful and sober, the poems in these pages, which represent and distill ten years' work, spring from experiences in Ottawa--its storied Lowertown where the author now lives--and Halifax, where part of her remains, while also taking in the communities in between, and the Ocean Limited, which crosses salt marshes back and forth into the peninsula of Nova Scotia. Whether in form, near-form, or free form, here are poems with an ear to sound and the music of language, accessible and seamlessly crafted.
About the author
Barbara Myers grew up in Halifax's North End. She was a reporter for the Halifax Mail-Star and Chronicle-Herald and a writer-researcher for the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and the LeDain Inquiry into Non-Medical Drug Use, before settling into many years of communications consulting for the government in Toronto and Ottawa. Myers has published a number of chapbooks, been widely published in journals and anthologies, and has won literary prizes including Other Voices (first place, 2000) as well as Arc's Poem of the Year (HM, in 2006). For six years, she was associate editor at Arc, to which she continues to contribute reviews and essays. A community activist, she lives in Ottawa, where she regularly volunteers for the Ottawa International Writers' Festival.
Excerpt: Slide (by (author) Barbara Myers)
Fugue in Winter
These days colours are muted but everything speaks to me sons and daughters grown gentle with each other in ritual reunions pigeons that purr on the balcony like itinerant cats making the circuit
everything speaks to me, winter relents grown sons and daughters gentle with each other a white complexion of mind glow of shorn boughs in moonlight
winter relents everything speaks long limbs of pearled boughs and bushes generations of roses in this wrinkled berry the colour of their voices gentle.
The image clings to painted plaster walls reprised and magnified 35 mm laughs and poses larger than life lean on the veranda in casual immortality
a hale and profane grand-dad wipes the mouth organ a young flirtatious woman looks back over her shoulder— a galaxy of light sheddings, inconstant scatterings of children in neat shorts
where’s the grammar for this — this was you, wasn’t it
still and dark when the imaging light goes out sliding back into your spine, your blood, always the same age they ever you ever were
Yellow calls us to the things of the world
Lemon slickers, golden arches, ochred calendula. Raw-siennad oak leaves. Yellow yields. Mediates between stop and go.
Makes school buses visible. Paints straight lines down the middle of black asphalt to keep the world right. In deciduous maturity,
yellow releases the tree from its green youth, lets go minor gods of luminescence: wait, it says. Wait. Look.
“Slide is a compelling book for many reasons,from its range and depth, to its inventive sensibilities and generosity of vision. Barbara Myers' poems carry with them both an urgency and serenity on their journey to lyrical eloquence. The intensely crafted beauty of this work illuminates and makes more brilliant the already shimmering answer to what it means to be human. Our lives are made richer because these poems exist, because their elegance and strength becomes part of us.”