Today's book of poetry - Under The Keel, Michael Crummey, House of Anansi Press, Toronto, 2013.
I started to smile early on when reading the first poem, a comfortable familiar when reading Michael Crummey's poetry. Having read previous collections Arguments With Gravity, Hard Light and Salvage (three of his earlier books of poems), I knew what to expect.
Highly polished poetry that can appear to be casual, but isn't. Colloquial language that becomes universal under Crummey's keen direction. Like many things of quality, the closer you look, the better they become.
These poems (including a few prose poems) tell a kaleidoscope of narratives, most of them tied to Newfoundland - Labrador at some primal level. But the over all feeling, sense, is like walking into a warm kitchen after being out in the cold and sitting down with an old story teller, yarn spinner, trickster and getting to listen in. And in that kitchen, where every sort of conversation can occur are poems full of the hard scrub understanding of a culture within a culture, a country on an island only tethered to the rest of us by a little bit of rock on the edge of the continent. There is a language that belongs to the rock and it threaded through these poems.
This book has teen aged love songs and dirges about the post office, instructions, reminders and every other thing. There is nothing experimental or radical in these poems, instead they adhere to an older narrative code where stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.
With Under The Keel, Mr. Crummey is reminding us what a good story teller he is, and what a fine poet.