Radio & Other Miracles

Radio & Other Miracles

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About the book

  • Winner of the Niagara Book Prize
The miracle of radio opens a boy’s ears to the music of the world around him. And Cox tells of other miracles too—sailboats and spaceships, ice-skates and tropical jacaranda, hair-raising escapes from danger, and the eerie harmony of coincidence.

About the author

Cox, Terrance

Terrance Cox lives in St. Catharines, Ontario. He performs his own poems to musical accompaniment on the recently released spoken word CD, Local Scores.

Terrance's work has also appeared in numerous journals, including Dalhousie Review, Grain, The Fiddlehead, Prism International, Quarry and Queen's Quarterly. Radio & Other Miracles is his first book.

Excerpt

Noises Off: A Found Poem
(for Glenn Gould & Foster Hewitt)
from The Globe and Mail (12/11/93)

"CBC Radio editor
Peter Cook and engineer
Don Davies were
remastering
some early Gould recordings
recently
for a new CD
to be released this month
when a voice spoke:
Here in the first period...
it's in the corner...
out front to Sawchuk.

A hockey game,
as described by Hewitt, had
somehow
inserted itself into
a 1955 broadcast
from Massey Hall
of Gould's rendition of
Bach's Keyboard Concerto in D Minor
with the Toronto Symphony.

The explanation is
a technical one. Davies
had so successfully
'de-noised'
the original Gould recording
that radio
interference
of the day was
now audible.

It turns out that night,
as Gould was broadcasting
live from Massey Hall
the Maple Leafs were playing
the Detroit Red Wings...
just a few blocks north....

They lost 3 - 0."

 

Wind Instrument
(for James C. Ison)

Once upon a great lake
sloop with full sail set
Toronto-bound & borne
off to truths unsought
Ison at helm & I
now less queasy posit
Einstein was a sailor
out on open waters where
space is waves
& time is liquid


Come about
off Grimsby spit
port is left in plural
senses & semantics
from landlock let loose


Jib set, sheets taut
jenny out, we make
four knots, north-northwest
as thought free-fioats
& words play thru
lacustrine changes:
Ground goes figure
fathoms beyond
physics gale force meta

Listen Ison says & I
learn to navigate by ear:
proper trim & bearing
true course making
both best speed & sound
keen melody of wind
that alto sings thru sheets
descants over sailcloth
hums continuo on keel
& Charlie Parker, man
he’d be fantastic
cat at tiller under canvas
old salt at impromptu
navigation, wind control
spontaneous at instrument
Dizzy, deft as first mate
cheeky on turns at task
billowing breezes to tune
Coltrane for longer blows

Darwin, as we know
truly was a sailor
knew from Beagle’s voyage
that human body is
an earthly vessel but
adaptable to water
given time & need for
weather eye & sea legs
knew that by degree
equilibrium evolves


Once out on that great lake
by mid-crossing, unthinking
you fiex with familiar
yaw & pitches, feel
fifteen marks off-centre
as if on kilter (& will
back on terra firma
stumble first few steps)


CN Tower as our beacon
intent on harbour pleasures
I at tiller feel secure
smug almost to ken
newly so much nautical
lore until thermals off
swelter of city blast us
heave us starboard hard
over till we take on
water & I panic:
revert to landlubber
useless as Ison reefs
jib & mainsail &
docks safely at marina

Twice to cross this great lake
morning next & chastened
deckhand barely able
we shove off south-east, set
course for Niagara
mouth of river where
no winds want to take us
but by frequent oblique tack


Capricious blow these breezes
until midday when they die
fetch us, becalmed, up
bobbed by swell all afternoon
adrift mid-lake
where garbage gathers


Apt passages from Homer
sagas & Coleridge come
Anglo-Saxon curses
as we strike our luffing
useless sails


prime, pull on & pray over
puny outboard
putt-putt
thence to Grimsby
earth & stanzas of lesson—


Warning to all craft:
prevailing winds are fickle


Beware
uncharted metaphors


The tiller is
an instrument of music

Reviews

These poems remind the reader of what connects and what divides. They begin in pop culture iconography of western experience and move through what becomes a cultural incongruity as Elvis and Eric sing and play our lives on an African… >>

— John B. Lee

In this marvelously sustained evocation of pre-TV, aural culture, Terrance Cox has crafted a style that operates as the poetic equivalent of pop, rock and jazz idioms—an elegant, retro telegraphese that has, everywhere, the nostalgic feel of the bygone, of… >>

— George Amabile


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