On The Page: LMPR’s Favourite Works of Poetry
Angela Poon – Beowulf, A New Verse Translation, by Seamus Heaney
The first time I was tasked with reading Beowulf, a difficult translation left me nonplussed. So when I found the Anglo-Saxon tome on my class syllabus again years later, I was dreading the assignment. This time, however, I was tasked with reading the most recent translation, by Irish poet Seamus Heaney. What was once a slog became a joy to read, introducing me to a world and subject matter far from my usual repertoire. To me, it was magical that a work I had previously found dull and irrelevant was now thought provoking and poignant, through the help of an inspired and much lauded new translation.
Brian Paterson – The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot
This poem has always held a special place in my heart.
As a person fascinated by Shakespeare and the classics, the work, to me, represents a bridge between the elevated worlds of high art and mundane everyday existence. What I find truly remarkable special is how much beauty Eliot is able to find in a simple life (one that has been measured out with coffee spoons). It is full of crippling ennui, frustration, and insecurity, but the brilliance of language and articulateness of thought turn these day-to-day concerns into something transcendent.
With his strange, smart, wandering work, Eliot tapped into something uncannily human and made it impossibly beautiful.
Rebecca Sharma – P.K., by Lorna Crozier
A yellowed newspaper clipping of Lorna Crozier’s tribute poem to the late poet P.K. Page has remained ceremoniously taped to the side of our fridge since it was first published in The Globe and Mail in 2010.
In P.K., Crozier delicately lifts words from Page’s poem, About Death, and places them gently in an ode to intertextuality, acknowledging the continued conversation between artists as their words live on without them.
As a long-standing admirer of both Crozier and Page’s works, it was a treat to discover this poem and the poignant, lovely phrase: “Beneath her, the Earth is the size of a plum / and the blue of a plum when it is ripe with morning”.
Zoe Grams – You Must Believe in Spring, by Jan Zwicky
Some of my favourite poetry is also my first discovered and hails from Vancouver Island. The screeds of immersive works by local poets, which I was introduced to by a talented writing teacher a decade ago, is still the most affecting I have read.
Songs for Relinquishing The Earth is one of philosopher and poet Jan Zwicky’s most celebrated collections. Lyrical, deeply moving, and philosophically rigorous, it draws on Zwicky’s appreciation for landscape, nature and music.
You Must Believe in Spring is a stunning yet grieving poem; one that – like all best melancholies – celebrates the beauty in life. The final line is a punch, a salute, and one of the finest summations of the human conditions I have read: “For — though the heart cannot fly — it is an excellent clamberer.”