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Poetry Canadian

The Afterlife of Trees

by (author) Brian Bartlett

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2002
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2002
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    Publish Date
    Mar 2002
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From "The Afterlife of Trees"

/Neither sheep nor cows crisscross our lives as much./Trees dangle apples and nuts for the hungry, throw/shade down for lovers, mark sites for the lost,/and first and last are/utterly themselves,/fuller and finer than any letter or number,/any 7 or T. Their fragmentary afterlife goes on/in a guitar's body and a hockey stick, in the beaked faces/up a totem pole and the stake through a vampire's heart,/in a fragrant cheese-board, a Welsh love-spoon,/a sweat-stained axe handle, a giant green dragonfly suspended from the ceiling with twine,/in the spellbinding shapechanging/behind a glass woodstove-door...

About the author

As a high-school student, Brian Bartlett was invited to join the Ice House Gang, so-called because they met in the University of New Brunswick's historic Ice House every Tuesday night to read their poetry and hone their talents. Amazed and delighted by Bartlett's gift for words, Robert Gibbs, Bill Bauer, Kent Thompson, and Alden Nowlan inspired him to become the accomplished artist he is today. He published his chapbook Finches for the Wake when he was only 18 years old. The next year, Brother's Insomnia was published as a New Brunswick Chapbook. Since this apprenticeship period, Bartlett has published six highly acclaimed collections: Cattail Week, Planet Harbor, Underwater Carpentry, Granite Erratics, The Afterlife of Trees, and Wanting the Day. His poetry has won Two Malahat Review Long Poem prizes, a fellowship to the Hawthornden Castle International Writers' Retreat in Scotland, and first prize in the 2000 Petra Kenney poetry awards. A talented writer of prose, Bartlett's essays, stories, and reviews have appeared in Books in Canada, Canadian Literature, The Fiddlehead, and Brick, as well as Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Anthology. A native of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Bartlett spent 15 years in Montreal, studying at McGill and teaching at Concordia. Today, he teaches creative writing and literature at Saint Mary's University in Halifax.

Brian Bartlett's profile page

Editorial Reviews

On The Afterlife of Trees: "Trees are ‘utterly themselves,' Brian Bartlett writes in the title poem of The Afterlife of Trees, and the same could be said of the poet himself, whose textured, learned poems are full of keen observation and deep reverence for the natural world. ‘The star-jammed / blackness nearly threw me on my back,' he says in another poem. It is a great pleasure to see that sky, and the world beneath it, through Bartlett's eyes." Carole Glasser Langille, author of In Cannon Cave -----
On Granite Erratics: "For a number of years, and without fanfare, Brian Bartlett has been quietly providing us with some of our best poetry ... No series of review quotations can do justice to the density and nuance, the lush foliation of Bartlett's diction ... This is poetry that is thick and suggestive; its rhythm both subtle and sinewy." Ross Leckie, author of The Authority of Roses -----
"Bartlett's poetry has granite strength and texture and something of an ammonite about it - a sense of connection with history and continuity. There is a tenderness to his poems too which makes them very moving. I find them a constant delight." Barbara Colebrook Peace, author of Kyrie

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