The Poetry of Jan Zwicky
Paper 102 pp.
Online discount: 25%
Arcing across thirty years and seven volumes, Jan Zwicky’s poetry
has always been acutely musical (and sensitive to the silence out
of which music comes). In the compositions in Chamber Music,
the first anthology of Zwicky’s poems, one may perceive the
attunement of her vocations: poet, philosopher, violinist. Her poetry
both praises and relinquishes the earth, bearing witness to the fierce
skies of the prairies and the freezing rain of the West Coast. Enacting
the virtue of clarity prized and defended by her explicitly philosophical
work, this poetry is both resonant and integrated. It is also formally
diverse, ranging from the singular focus of the lyric ode to suites
of variations and fugal structures, from polyphonic textures to the
sprawling reach of narrative gestures. Throughout, one feels the deft
hand of an adept using powerful metaphors to explore themes of colonial
violence, environmental devastation, spiritual catastrophe, and transformation.
Resisting Western philosophy’s exclusion of imagination from civic life, Zwicky’s poetry is noteworthy for the tension it achieves between the abstract and the personal, the general and the particular. Meditating repeatedly on themes of love and grief, this poetry is at once passionately committed to the lucidity of its utterances and the fidelity of its images.
Jan Zwicky’s books of poetry include Songs for Relinquishing the Earth, which won the Governor General’s Award, Robinson’s Crossing, which won the Dorothy Livesay Prize, and, most recently Forge, which was short-listed for the Griffin Prize. Her books of philosophy include Wisdom & Metaphor, Lyric Philosophy, and Alkibiades’ Love (forthcoming 2015).
Darren Bifford is the author of Wedding in Fire Country (2012) and Hermit Crab ( 2014). He lives in Montreal.
Warren Heiti lives in Halifax, where he has taught at Dalhousie University and St. Mary’s University. He is currently a teaching fellow at the University of King’s College. He is the author of Hydrologos (2011).