Handwriting

Overview

Handwriting is Michael Ondaatje first new book of poetry since The Cinnamon Peeler. It is a collection of exquisitely crafted poems of delicacy and power - poems about love, landscape, and the sweep of history set in the poet's first home, Sri Lanka.

The falling away of culture is juxtaposed with an individual's sense of loss, grief, and remembrance, as Ondaajte weaves a rich tapestry of images --the unburial of stone Buddhas, a family of ...

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Handwriting

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Overview

Handwriting is Michael Ondaatje first new book of poetry since The Cinnamon Peeler. It is a collection of exquisitely crafted poems of delicacy and power - poems about love, landscape, and the sweep of history set in the poet's first home, Sri Lanka.

The falling away of culture is juxtaposed with an individual's sense of loss, grief, and remembrance, as Ondaajte weaves a rich tapestry of images --the unburial of stone Buddhas, a family of stilt-walkers crossing a field, the pattern of teeth marks on skin drawn by a monk from memory.

And like the poets who "wrote their stories on rock and leaf/to celebrate the work of the day. /the shadow pleasures of the night," in these poems Ondaajte writes of desire and longing, the curve of a bridge against a woman's foot, the figure of a man walking through a rainstorm to a tryst.

Handwriting is a poetic achievement by a writer at the height of his creative powers. In it, we are reminded once again of Michael Ondaajte's unique artistry with language and of his stature as one of the finest poets writing today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Extremely beautiful." — Robert Haas, The Washington Post

"A captivating journey into the beauty and wounds of history." — Echo Weekly

"A bright, lingering dream of a book." — Eye

"Tumultuous, vibrant, tragic, and over too soon." — Newsday

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780224093804
  • Publisher: Cape, Jonathan Limited
  • Publication date: 9/28/2011

Meet the Author

Michael Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Canada in 1962. He lives in Toronto.

Michael Ondaatje's The Cinnamon Peeler, The English Patient, In the Skin of a Lion, Running in the Family, Coming through Slaughter, and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid are available in Vintage paperback.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

In the dry lands

every few miles, moving north,
another roadside Ganesh

Straw figures on bamboo scaffolds to advertise a family of stilt-walkers

Men twenty feet high walking over fields crossing the thin road with their minimal arms and "lying legs"

A dance of tall men with the movement of prehistoric birds in practice before they alight

So men become gods in the small village of Ilukwewa

Ganesh in pink,
                         in yellow,
in elephant darkness
His simplest shrine a drawing of him

lime chalk on a grey slate

All this glory preparing us for Anuradhapura

its night faith

A city with the lap and spell of a river

Families below trees around the heart of a fire

tributaries from the small villages of the dry zone

Circling the dagoba in a clockwise hum and chant,
bowls of lit coal above their heads

whispering bare feet

Our flutter and drift

in the tow of this river

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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First Chapter

In the dry lands

every few miles, moving north,
another roadside Ganesh

Straw figures
on bamboo scaffolds
to advertise a family
of stilt-walkers

Men twenty feet high
walking over fields
crossing the thin road
with their minimal arms
and "lying legs"

A dance of tall men
with the movement of prehistoric birds
in practice before they alight

So men become gods
in the small village
of Ilukwewa

Ganesh in pink,
in yellow,
in elephant darkness
His simplest shrine
a drawing of him

lime chalk
on a grey slate

All this glory
preparing us for Anuradhapura

its night faith

A city with the lap
and spell of a river

Families below trees
around the heart of a fire

tributaries
from the small villages
of the dry zone

Circling the dagoba
in a clockwise hum and chant,
bowls of lit coal
above their heads

whispering bare feet

Our flutter and drift

in the tow of this river
Read More Show Less

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2003

    A bargain at this price.

    I could recommend this slim volume as a nearly perfect Valentine¿s Day gift based almost on the attractive appearance and reasonable price, alone. The content has merit as well, and I¿m basically glad I read it. As I look at the reviews above, I find I agree with all of them¿ both the positive and the negative: they say the same things. Ondaatje hasn¿t written verse for fourteen years, devoting himself mostly to well-crafted prose fiction, and it shows. He has good control of topic and theme, an eye for detail and incident, and a very sensual command of the language. Any verse-craft is not at all in evidence¿ but it¿s easy reading in any case, so it is as much as most people may care.

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