The poems in The Broken Face explore a sacramental, imaginative vision within contexts of crime, perception, memory and love. In this collection, Russell Thornton returns to the vital themes of intimacy and family, loss, fear and hope, bringing to each poem the essential quality of a myth or incantation. Reverent and revealing, within those familiar relationships he ushers in a connection with something transcendent: “A man has come floundering late in the night / to stand alone at the shore of a sleeping infant’s face.”
The poems capture life at the periphery, whether describing homelessness or incarceration, or even the universal experiences of aging and mortality, love and fear of love, all of which bring the speaker into a detached yet energized state of watching and waiting: “the door that was my grandfather into our passing lives / will arrive at a house where each of us is his own door / that opens on our first selves, fundamental together.”
With intense lyricism, Thornton displays a mastery of craft so complete as to be nearly invisible. While stunningly beautiful, his imagery is also in such complete service to the deeper emotional resonance of each poem that it feels inevitable, and contributes to making the collection deeply moving.
About the author
Russell Thornton's books include The Fifth Window, A Tunisian Notebook, House Built of Rain (shortlisted for the BC Book Prizes' Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the ReLit Award for poetry), The Human Shore, and his latest collection, Birds, Metals, Stones and Rain. He won the League of Canadian Poets National Contest in 2000 and The Fiddlehead's Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize in 2009. His poetry has appeared in several anthologies, among them Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry, Open Wide A Wilderness: Canadian Nature Poems, the Montreal International Poetry Prize 2011 Anthology, and Best Canadian Poetry in English 2012. His poems have twice been featured on Vancouver buses as part of BC's Poetry in Transit. For several years he divided his life between Vancouver and Aberystwyth, Wales, and then Salonica, Greece. For the past number of years he has lived where he was born and grew up, in North Vancouver.
“Russell Thornton’s The Broken Face demonstrates an admirable versatility of variation in form, line length, imagery, and subject matter.”
The Ormsby Review