With The Cape Breton Book of the Dead , Don Domanski emerged as a remarkable new voice in Canadian poetry, combining formal conciseness with broad cosmic allusions, constant surprise with brooding atmospherics, and innovative syntax with delicate phrasings. In subsequent collections, Domanski’s poetry has deepened and expanded, with longer lines and more complex structures that journey into the far reaches of metaphor. Now, with Earthly Pages: The Poetry of Don Domanski , the long-awaited first selection from his books, readers have a chance to experience the full range of his work in one volume.
Editor Brian Bartlett, in his introduction, “The Trees are Full of Rings,”, discusses Domanski’s engagement with nature and the transformative power of his metaphors; his poetic bestiary amd mythical underpinnings; and his kinship to poets like Stevens, Whitman, and Rumi. Like these poets, Domanski is drawn to borderlands between the physical and the spiritual, the unconscious and the conscious. His poetry finds a home for demons and angels, spiders and wolvesand for kitchens and back alleys, forests and stars.
In language both fluent and hypnotic, Domanski maintains an awareness of both the magnitudes and the minutiae that live beyond language. In “Flying Over Language,” an essay written specifically for this volume, the poet explains that for him metaphor is one way to suggest the wealth of being that poetry can only point toward.
About the Author
Don Domanski was born and raised on Cape Breton Island and now lives in Halifax. He has published eight books of poetry, two of which were short-listed for the Governor General’s Award, and in 1999 he won the Canadian Literary Award for Poetry. Published and reviewed internationally, his work has been translated into Czech, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Brian Bartlett’s books of poetry include Granite Erratics, The Afterlife of Trees, Travels of the Watch , and Wanting the Day: Selected Poems , which was published in both Britain and Canada and won the 2004 Atlantic Poetry Prize. He also edited Don McKay: Essays on His Works and is working on a collection of prose, Living with Poetry . He teaches at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
Read an Excerpt
Dangerous Words by Don Domanski
little by little the thistles suffer on the hill
bare trees enter the river
the wind takes the earth and blows
it drop by drop into your ear
you are ashes mixed with rain and sleep
leaves rustling in a closed hand
a mouse dropped out of a cloud
dangerous words pass under your window
words that no one has ever used before
you follow them into the woods
your find three words building a fire
one word skinning a rabbit
and another word far off in the shadows
pissing on a violet
what do they have for you
these five elves these little men
this little sentence in the forest?
they have but one knife between them
one hat one coin one pot
and a dark bag full of spoons
what good are they to you?
what can they give you
that you don't already have?
if you touch them
you touch a hanging bell
and a small tongue wakes in the grass
to speak to you to give you a name
to call you tulip or pincurl
or doll's breath
which means you'll never see
your home again not your parents
or their love
which means you will always whisper
but never speak
never escape these little men
these words burning their supper their rabbit-water
in an iron pot.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents for
Earthly Pages: The Poetry of Don Domanski , selected with an introduction by Brian Bartlett
Foreward | Neil Besner
Introduction: The Trees Are Full of Rings | Brian Barlett
Sunrise at Sea Level
One for an Apparition
Visiting the Grandmother
At Daybreak a Hairsbreadth Turns to Blue
Looking for a Destination
Love Poem on the Sabbath
A Perfect Forehead
The Ape of God
The God of Folding
Epiphany Under Thunderclouds
Before the Plague and the Breaking of Fingers
Lethean Lock Mnemonic Key
He Leans Homeward
Taking the Train to Fredericton
What the Bestiary Said
Afterword: Flying Over Language | Don Domanski