Paul Vermeersch’s new poems give a present-day voice to primitive song, and restore to us a dawn-time severity that cuts through modern evasions. They go beyond sophistication to reveal the passionate and suffering animal within. The Reinvention of the Human Hand is a poetry of the human body’s experience, of a primal being that struggles to assert itself, or perhaps just survive, in a world of metals, plastics, electronics. Here is the most far-reaching work yet by the acclaimed author of Burn, The Fat Kid, and Between the Walls. Vermeersch has always gone in search of understanding. Now his discoveries speak of a human world exhausted by its divorce from an animal past, terrified of retreating into early places it never truly left, astonished by the forgotten possibilities disclosed there.
About the author
Paul Vermeersch is the author of three collections of poetry: The Fat Kid, Burn (a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award) and, most recently, Between the Walls. He is also the editor of the anthology The I.V. Lounge Reader. His next collection, The Reinvention of the Human Hand, is forthcoming in 2010. His poetry has been published widely in literary journals and magazines. He lives in Toronto, where he works as a teacher and serves as poetry editor for Insomniac Press. He is a long-time reader and admirer of the work of Al Purdy.
- Short-listed, Trillium Book Award
Excerpt: The Reinvention of the Human Hand (by (author) Paul Vermeersch)
the painted beasts of lascaux
Their discovery has been a kind of homecoming, too.
Part of you has been here before, germinal, hidden.
A painted hand resting on the stone, a molecule,
a memory of muscled, brawling bulls entombed
deep within, their horns goring the darkness
locked in the rock of ages. These yellow ochre horses
were born too long before they could be anything
but horses, before they could be centaurs, before
they could be starships. Remember, these herds
are the same on these walls as they were in their fi elds,
the same as they are in your mind. Listen.
Their hoof beats trampling this ancestral earth
are still the drums that drive the song in your blood,
the abiding chant of the hundred billion dead
who came before you. Their distant voices vanished
into your voice, deepening it. Their song the song
that’s been snarled in your heart – breaking it,
trying to pound its way free – for your entire life.
"Vermeersch is one of Canada's best young poets. [His poems] explore the tension between the natural world and the artifice of our society, and the collision between the public sphere and the secret corners of our private lives."
— Vancouver Province