This volume features thirty-five of Don McKay’s best poems, which are selected with a contextualizing introduction by Méira Cook that probes wilderness and representation in McKay, and the canny, quirky, thoughtful, and sometimes comic self-consciousness the poems adumbrate. Included is McKay’s afterword written especially for this volume in which McKay reflects on his own writing processits relationship to the earth and to metamorphosis.
Don McKay has published eight books of poetry. He won the Governor General’s Award in 1991 (for Night Field ) and in 2000 (for Another Gravity ), a National Magazine Award (1991), and the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry in 1984 (for Birding, Or Desire ). Don McKay was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize for Camber and was the Canadian winner of the 2007 Griffin Poetry Prize for Strike/Slip . Born in Owen Sound, Ontario, McKay has been active as an editor, creative writing teacher, and university instructor, as well as a poet. He has taught at the University of Western Ontario, the University of New Brunswick, The Banff Centre, The Sage Hill Writing Experience, and the BC Festival of the Arts. He has served as editor and publisher of Brick Books since 1975 and from 1991 to 1996 as editor of The Fiddlehead . He resides in British Columbia.
About the Author
Don McKay has published eight books of poetry. Among his many awards are the Governor General’s Award in 1991 (for Night Fields ) and in 2000 (for Another Gravity ). He was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize for Camber and was the Canadian winner in 2007 for Strike/Slip . Born in Owen Sound, Ontario, Don McKay has been active as an editor, creative writing teacher, and university instructor, as well as a poet. He lives in Newfoundland.
Méira Cook was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1964, received her PhD in Canadian literature from the University of Manitoba, and has recently completed a two-year term as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. She has published poetry, criticism, a novel and, in 2005, Writing Lovers: Reading Canadian Love Poetry by Women . She has taught creative writing in high schools, literature at university, and has worked as a freelance film and arts reviewer and editor. She lives in Winnipeg.
Read an Excerpt
Field Marks: by Don McKay
just like you and me but
cageless, likes fresh air and
wants to be his longing.
wears extra eyes around his neck, his mind
pokes out his ears the way an Irish Setter's nose
pokes out a station-wagon window.
His heart is suet. He would be a bird book full of
lavish illustrations with a text of metaphor.
He would know but still
be slippery in time. He would eat crow. He becomes
hyperbole, an egghead who spends days attempting to compare the
shape and texture of her thigh to a snowy egret's neck, elegant
and all too seldom seen in Southern Ontario.
He utters absolutes he instantly forgets. Because
the swallow is intention in a fluid state it is
impossible for it to “miss. “ On the other
hand a swallow's evening has been usefully compared
to a book comprised entirely of errata slips.
He wings it.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents for
Field Marks: The Poetry of Don McKay selected with an introduction by Méira Cook
Introduction: Song for the Song of the Dogged Birdwatcher
Down River, Into the Camp
At the Long Sault Parkway
The Great Blue Heron
The Eye Meets Tom Thomson’s “A Rapid”
Lependu nearly materialized by his blackbirds
The Boy’s Own Guide to Dream Birds
I Scream You Scream
Adagio for a Fallen Sparrow
Field Marks (2):
Some Functions of a Leaf
How to Imagine an Albatross
from Black Spruce
Another Theory of Dusk
Meditation on a Geode
Choosing the Bow
Meditation on Shovels
(i) The Man from Nod
(ii) Fates Worse Than Death
Setting the Table
Sometimes a Voice (1)
Luna Moth Meditation
Sometimes a Voice (2)
Afterword: The Shell of the Tortoise
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Selected and compiled by Meira Cook (who also provides the reader with an extensive and informative introduction), 'Field Marks' showcases some of the best verse drawn from the work of prize-winning Canadian poet Don McKay. This slender compendium providing those new to his poetry with a representative sampling (he has eight published books of poetry to his credit), is enhanced with the inclusion of an essay by McKay, 'The Shell of the Tortise', in which he presents his relationship to the earth, to metamorphosis, and to language. 'Field Marks' is a superb introduction to an accomplished poet and will motivate the reader to search out his other published works. Alibi: Because the swallows had departed from the cliff,/over and over,/the soft knives of their wings tasting the river mist as they/went wherever it is/they went, because/with the air free of their chatter we could hear ourselves/think, because the notes/we left in their holes, full of love and envy/and lament, were never answered and because we need/an earth with ears to hear the long dread/carpentry of history, and then, and so, and so,/and then, each bone nailed, wired, welded,/riveted, because we knew/the gods we loved were charismatic fictions, and because/the swallows had departed.