The Academy of American Poets declared April to be National Poetry Month back in 1996, and the global, monthlong praise of poetry continues to this day by encouraging municipalities, businesses, and media to shine more light than normal on poetry.
Conveniently, or rather intentionally in honour of Poetry Month, local publishing house Breakwater Books have released two great new books of poetry from two young local poets, Shannon Webb-Campbell (Still No Word) and Stephen Rowe (Geo Logics).
Shannon Webb-Campbell is an award-winning poet, writer, and journalist, and the inaugural winner of Egale Canada’s Out in Print Award – for this very book. She was also the Canadian Women in Literary Arts 2014 critic-in-residence.
Shannon’s poems are so personal they become universal and appeal to that core part of humanity we all share, by asking the questions we’ve all asked, or sharing the experiences we’ve all lived through or will. Her collections explores the highs, lows, revelations, conflicts, and concerns we all have as living, breathing, beautifully broken adults. As Sue Goyette says in her endorsement quote, “The we in Still No Word is tribal in reach.”
Sample Poem, “Harvest Your Heart”
When you arrive at this loneliness write a letter to each lover and examine what was taken. Remind them with memories and pinpoint subtle ways they touched you. Recall the way they buttered your toast and spread your thighs.
Bring them to your tower, where you’ve been hiding since you left them, learning and unlearning, doing and undoing, covering and recovering. Cup your hands over their eyes and linger until anxiety turns to ease, familiarity.
You know the years have worn on them; they’ve worn on you, too.
Give them a moment to adjust, to take in the view. Ask them to bear witness to your shame, a transformation of pain, reclaimed.
Tell them of the centuries you’ve spent grieving. Give them, and yourself, mercy. Apologize before a harvest moon. Set right what can be set right and finally drop what you couldn’t let go of. Hold your own hand, and kiss your palms goodnight.
Love again, this stranger in you. Set a table for two and forget to blow out the candles before bed. Burn down the house and build anew.
Stephen Rowe’s poetry has appeared in such publications as CV2, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Antigonish Review, and Riddle Fence. His first collection, Never More There, was shortlisted for the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage and History Award.
Geo Logics “binds the impermanent to the permanent. With both an inquiry into loss and an inquiry into reason, Rowe seeks a motivation capable of accepting pain, and reveals the shadows of our temporary lives backlit by a radiant sense of deep geologic time. These poems capture our comings and goings in formally graceful and chiselled verse.”
Sample Poem, “Touch”
There is no forgiveness in the falling
of leaves. At once complete and partial,
ready and not ready. In the clasp of currents
they break with the world in ending, severed
at the petiole; that tactile sense a memory.
As they burn about you, show a little pity,
look into the great vagary of sky, see
their last moments as themselves. To these martyrs
hold out the stems of your hands, the yet living
parts of earth; for them reach, reach.