This is the third installment in acclaimed poet Wayne Clifford's series of sonnets, The Exile's Papers, a project decades in the making and now recognized as one of the most inventive creative projects ongoing in Canada.
'How many variations can one person find in the sonnet, the poetic form madefamous by Petrarch, Spenser, and Shakespeare for their particular tailoringof it to suit their designs? The Canadian poet Wayne Clifford has addedhimself to history's long list of those obsessed with the versatility of thesonnet, and his latest 156 pages of sonnets prove that it is an obsessionthat may be difficult to get to the bottom of. The Dirt's Passion Is FleshSorrow is part three of Wayne Clifford's four-part sonnet collection, TheExile's Papers. The previous books, The Exile's Papers: The Duplicity ofAutobiography and The Exile's Papers: The Face as Its Thousand Ships, werepublished in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
'Clifford's sonnets sometimes resemble the compact fourteen-line ''little song''that readers of poetry have come to know. But more often, they surprise forthe way that they – in ultimate homage to the words of the poem – take the shapethat the words and sound dictate. And the surprise does not stop there.Clifford is rambunctious in his sonneteering of anything and everything onhis mind, from George W. Bush and the financial crisis (equated to cowboys inthe Wild West) to Wallace Stevens, dogs, and prank phone calls, among manyother subjects.
'Often cynical and irreverent, Clifford's language soars with unexpected twistsand turns, often taking readers on jaunts through extended metaphor. In ''TheExile Meets Dante'', Clifford writes about Bush's plans for the Taliban: ''TheNational Debt justify its grand / hot-doggedness? Its half-cooked plan, /akin to TV football, save the land?'' In ''A Country Drive'', a more emotionalpoem where the speaker recalls the difficulty of his mother's life, Cliffordmakes descriptive combinations that sear with their accuracy. ''Ah, Dublin!How I wish I had a tale / so freighted with cat-lick poverty / that I couldbrag a snot-green sea....''
'From poem to poem in this collection, readers cannot predict from whichdirection a wave might hit them, for the transitions from subject to subjectare naturally seamless. Similarly, the emotional weight of the poems iseasily counterbalanced from line to line, from witty to serious to disgustedand sometimes resigned. No matter where readers are when they pick up thecollection, they will be firmly transplanted into Wayne Clifford's mind,meeting him precisely where he is in his thoughts.
'Readers fascinated by form with a penchant for playful language and occasionalsurrealness would be a natural fit for The Dirt's Passion Is Flesh Sorrow orany of the other books in this collection. Additionally, present and futurereaders at libraries would find it a boon to happen upon the latest of WayneClifford's work in the stacks.'
'As with the first two installments of The Exile's Papers quartet, The Dirt's Passion is Flesh Sorrow leaves the reader challenged and changed, both conceptually and intellectually.'