About the book
“In the new world, we wake up/to a bone ark bobbing on a blue wherever,” Dempster writes in the title poem of this new collection, his twelfth book of poetry. He connects the intensity of loving someone with the visceral vividness of being alive, as though waking from a beautiful dream and finding the world still sparkling. Granted, there is still loss and loneliness, even huge awols of hope, but the particulars of the outside world remain spectacular despite their ordinariness: cedar wax-wings with their “little caramel whisks/of hairdo above Lone Ranger masks;” the one-eyed horse who “wouldn’t/blame you if you ran, muck flicking/from the soles of your shoes;” the river rocks in the front garden “pretending/the inanimate way is holy,/a stunning coldness in the place of eyes.”
Blue Wherever returns us to being in the moment with an intensity and beguilement often reserved for romantic love, and from the various perspectives of observer and creator.
Whether it be Pancake Tuesday, a lonely Office Party or a Sunday drive through strip-mall Wastelands, Dempster reminds us there is still much to see and myriad reasons for staying awake and alive.
About the author
Barry Dempster is the author of fifteen books, including a novel, The Ascension of Jesse Rapture, a children’s book, two volumes of short stories and eleven collections of poetry. He has twice been nominated for the Governor General’s Award and has won the Petra Kenney Award, the Confederation Poets’ Prize, the Prairie Fire Poetry Contest and the Canadian Authors’ Association Jack Chalmers Award for Poetry for his 2005 collection, The Burning Alphabet. In 2009, he published two new books of poetry: Love Outlandish (Brick Books) and Ivan’s Birches (Pedlar Press).
Senior Editor at Brick Books, he has been a Wired Writing and Writing Studio mentor at the Banff Centre, and the facilitator of a two-week poetry master class in Santiago, Chile. He lives just north of Toronto, where he runs a film series and two book discussion groups.
The real question is what, not how. The grief
that I hold grave in my heart, spend my days trying
to resolve. What if I gave the same attention
to happiness, would I find it somewhere
in the queer ridges of my nails or the
stringy backs of my shins? Decide to live on
love alone and I’d either starve or conjugate,
a little fondness joined to same until the sighs
begin to sound like bells, giddy with momentum.
- from “Woodpecker”
Hard times, I thin myself to a shadow,
the vague hint of footsteps behind my
friend’s back, the faintest flicker at the
fireplace. Not even war can stop me from
loving the world, quietly unrequited.
The killer virus shrinks at the very mention
of quarantine. The tulip shoots shiver with
purpose. Cold and cruel, a chorus
complaint. Just touching a chair
these days is a kind of embrace.
- from “Happy to be Cold”
In this state of perfection, we wake up
to a bone ark bobbing on a blue wherever,
just the two of us in our various roles.
The doves will come and go, their breeze
adding frills to the blunt tops of waves.
The elephants, surprisingly, can swim.
As can the caramel-coloured ants
with their hollow abdomens. And those
who can’t, well, they will ride
the slopes of our floating shoulders,
almost in the shapes of wings.
- from “Blue Wherever”
“Few if any poets encompass the range, the dynamism, and the spectrum of emotional colours Barry Dempster does.” >>
— Jury citation Canadian Authors' Association, for The Burning Alphabet, winner of the 2006 Jack Chalmers Award
“'Is it narcissistic to want a / personal relationship with everything?' Barry Dempster wonders in his latest poetry collection. This desperate yearning for intimacy pervades the book, lending an air of wistfulness and melancholia to its otherwise playful tone. Whatever…” >>
— Quill & Quire