poetry is what happens when words become beautiful.
[replace these icons — they’re the ones from the teaching section atm]
for hundreds of years, western society has looked at poetry as something reserved for the elite, hated by the general public. “i don’t get poetry” has been a declaration of being normal. that’s because we have been forced to read badly-written, outdated poetry in a language only vaguely related to modern english in schools. poetry is a way to turn everyday language into beauty, both stunning images and creative expressions. it’s not just for those trapped in ivory towers or pining for the second coming of shakespeare. you are more than welcome to explore my poetry in modern english with contemporary grammar. (by the way, i write traditional-style poetry, too, though it’s all in modern english.)
language is the music of the everyday and poetry raises the everyday spoken word to an attempt at beauty. it need not reflect on anything in particular or be for a purpose, although much of it certainly does and is these things, but it must seek to make language beautiful, enjoyable.
i am often asked whether it is ok to share my poetry with a class and if that’s a problem for duplication. if you teach poetry or literature and you’d like to use some of my work with your class, feel free to duplicate it — you can consider this written permission for that purpose. i am happy to speak or correspond with your students about anything they might happen to wish to ask, something that i have also often been requested to do. please don’t hesitate to be in contact!
i have found that it is difficult to find the type of poetry that i enjoy reading. i don’t want to hear about your daily life – not you specifically but anyone. i have no interest in reading word choice just because it sounds nice. and i don’t want to be shocked or terrified. i want beautiful images, interesting choice of words, and for the meaning to be clear – not necessarily concrete but if you make the reader work too hard, you are intentionally making it eletist, out of reach. i believe that the beauty of language is a dream that may be shared by everyone and an escape from the daily existence of the human condition that transcends the feeling of sunrise and sunset to infinity for brief moments. we may not live in poetry but we may visit and if that is a pleasant experience, we may often return.
most of the poetry that i have written has made its way into my published collections. if you look at the pages for each of those books, there are some samples of the work in each of them there. here, i share some of the poetry that i have written either for individual use, for musical settings or for a particular collection that isn’t one of my own, for magazines or compilations, for example.
it may be important to note that most of what is in this section was written specifically for the purpose of musical adaptation. not all of it has been completed in that way or ever will be but it is with a musical impetus, particularly a choral tradition, that these exist.
collections in progress
snow dreams — verses huddled beneath a blanket of white
this is a series of work based on the idea of snow and winter, a reflection on my childhood and adolescence in canada through snowy winters and bitterly cold springs. the first section of this collection is entitled first storm and you are welcome to read its contents here.
mornings of virgin snow
continuing in the footsteps first walked with millennial ephemera, this is a collection, not of freeform poetry, but of formal work in a classical tradition – haiku and tanka. i have always been overwhelmed by the beauty of such works since my early childhood being exposed to these cultural equivalents of precious stones. i give these to you as my contribution to a tradition that i hope will live as long as our species and beyond its passing to enlighten and beautify the existence of those who inhabit our spirits for the ages as yet unwritten.
(publication in progress…)
visiting the masters
as a poet, in many ways, i am inevitably a translator. i rewrite the daily existence into ephemeral experience of life, from internal language to the lyrics of spoken partnership with the reader. beyond this, though, i am engaged in the work of taking the classical poetry that motivates me to write in the first place and converting that into something that will motivate others. i see many approaches to translation, some more focused on literal meaning, others more focused on language similarity, some technical and others more fluid. my approach is far more loose with the original language and technical approach than most, in a wholehearted and comprehensive approach to communicate the original intent regardless of what that looks like in the finished work, much of the original metaphoric language and text reshaped into a new vision. whether this is termed translation or inspired recomposition makes little difference to me but this may be an important thing to note when reading what i see as translation. the work currently in progress is a reimagining of traditional japanese poetry in this manner, mornings of virgin snow. it is expected to be on bookshelves before the end of 2021, including work in contemporary translations from the great masters of poetry such as bashō, issa, and buson – among many others. i hope that whether you see this as a more flexible approach to translation or a new work inspired by these great writers of the past, you will enjoy the result.