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Poetry Canadian

The Full Measure

by (author) John B. Lee

Black Moss Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2015
Canadian, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2015
    List Price

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John B. Lee has led a five—dog life, and this collection of poems spans that full measure. From the boy with his first dog leaping his lap to lick his face with that jubilant worming of spine that comes when dog and boy were both young, to the old man walking his fifth dog on the beach, this life journey illuminates how we see the world from first days until the seventh morning. His mother is both the young wife enduring standing—room only Detroit Red Wings hockey game on her honeymoon in Detroit City, and the elderly woman in the memory room at the retirement home wondering about the impossible existence of blue butterflies. His sister is his hop scotch companion going one foot, two foot, one in a game played under heaven's blue theatre. His father and uncle who share ownership of the farm he grew up on are transformed by time from handsome young men with big car dreams into those who come to feel mostly the fear of falling and the breaking of bones. And what we have then in these fine poems is the presence of absence. In the words of the opening poem, Lee states of himself — "though I was once time's sweet darling, now I am remembering more, imagining less." This award—winning collection is a lamentation of loss we experience if we are blessed to live a long enough life and a celebration of how life deepens us if we are blessed with the capacity to appreciate the lessons life allows us to learn. Sometimes those lessons are hard. Still, like the wirewalker setting out over the cable stretched across Niagara Falls in a poem of that name, if we dare venture we are carried forward by brave motion where any moment we might fall beyond knowing. And as it is stated in a later poem if we believe in loving we might experience "the way it melts away/the way it stays." For their part the judges of Lee's award—winning poem "Bringing the Farmhouse Down" wrote of John B. Lee's work as being "reminiscent of Hopkins … Ted Hughes or Galway Kinnell," fine praise for this Canadian poet in his prime.

About the author

In 2005 John B. Lee was inducted as Poet Laureate of Brantford in perpetuity. In 2011 he was appointed Poet Laureate of Norfolk County (2011-14) and in 2015 Honourary Poet Laureate of Norfolk County for life and in 2017 he received a Canada 150 Medal from the Federal Government of Canada for “his outstanding contribution to literary development both at home and abroad.” A recipient of over eighty prestigious international awards for his writing, he is winner of the $10,000 CBC Literary Award for Poetry, the only two time recipient of the People’s Poetry Award, and 2006 winner of the inaugural Souwesto Orison Writing Award (University of Windsor). He has well-over seventy books published to date and is the editor of seven anthologies including two best-selling works: That Sign of Perfection: poems and stories on the game of hockey; and Smaller Than God: words of spiritual longing. His work has appeared internationally in over 500 publications, and has been translated into French, Spanish, Korean and Chinese. He has read his work in nations all over the world including South Africa, France, Korea, Cuba, Canada and the United States. He has received letters of praise from Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Australian Poet, Les Murray, and Senator Romeo Dallaire. Called “the greatest living poet in English,” by poet George Whipple, he lives in Port Dover, Ontario where he works as a full time author.

John B. Lee's profile page

Other titles by John B. Lee