amongst books

amongst books

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What's In The Book Bag, Rusty?

I'll take a rocking chair, you take the chair closest to the fire. [Feel free to play the theme from the Friendly Giant and read this post while playing goes on for a while: ]

Just finished Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall's "Down To This: Squalor and Splendour In A Big-City Shantytown" (2004) about Tent City in Toronto. This book provided insight and a compassionate, yet realistic portrayal of homeless people without being condescending or patronizing. The author, who lived in Tent City for a year, portrays a group of human beings who live outside of conventional society's norms. I'm always drawn to books about people with wounded hearts, trying to survive, and Bishop-Stall's book depicts this world well. He moved in to Tent City with his own battle scars. This writer has written a few non-fiction articles before. He was shortlisted for a Writers' Trust award this year. This is someone I'd definitely like to read more of.

I'm also currently reading the poetry of T. Anders Carson. Last November at the Toronto Small Press Bookfair, I had the pleasure of talking a bit with Anders and purchased his book "Folding The Crane" (2002) Subsequently I've gotten a hold of his other poetry: "A Different Shred Of Skin" (2000), "Stain" (A CD, 1999), "Carson" (An audiotape 1997) and "Salt Pork and Sunsets" (1997). Once something really resonates for me in someone's work, I tend to want to read their whole oeuvre. This is the case with T. Anders Carson. I relate to his poetry and admire his honesty and his skill with imagery. He deals with the big issues: war, poverty, mental illness, depression, death.

His poems are more prose-like than I can usually get into, but the strong, original imagery is what turns these pieces from prose into poetry for me. I've never heard Anders read in public, so being able to listen to him reading his poetry on his CD and audiotape is the next best thing. The only way for me to really get someone's poetry is to hear them read it aloud. Anders' voice rings out earnestly on his audio collections. And out of the vision of despair, the poet finds hope and he shows us that, in the darkness, there are, somehow, miracles.

and the drawbridge slowly closes...

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