A Gathering. Nelson Ball. Book Thug. Toronto, Ontario. 2014.
A Gathering is an elegy to the Canadian poet David W. Harris, better known as David UU.
Want some illumination in your life, a brighter clarity, open a book by Nelson Ball. His poems are short sharp beacons of light.
Nelson Ball is the master of beautifully controlled restraint.
In the interests of full disclosure I need to tell you that I am a member of the Nelson Ball Fan Club. I have never had the privilege of meeting the man but I am slowly building a small cache of his books.
Ottawa poet and publisher of Apt.9 Press, Cameron Anstee, has a trove of Nelson Ball's work and as soon as I can figure out how to take it without his noticing, it will be mine.
Although Ball's poems are short, there is nothing slight about the impact.
May 23: Sunset
An edge of coolness
in the air
did not stay
for this day's
to tell him
Book Thug, the Toronto small press that published this handsome chapbook, continues to push open the gates of resistance to new poetry. It would seem they have a mandate to publish the most original and adventurous poetry in Canada.
Nelson Ball is that sort of magician, you could swear there were more words on the page when you have finished reading. How could so little impart so much?
A Final Question
Was the light dazzling
near noon, May 23rd
between the boards
melding with the white
light of approaching death
before you dimmed
in the shed's
There is a tenderness in these poems but it does not diminish or salve the terrible sense of loss with the death of a friend.
Ball doesn't gloss over his dear friend David UU's suicide but instead treats his fallen comrade with respect, love and controlled grief. This is sad glamour indeed.
Ingrid On The Phone
Ingrid on the phone says that David is dead.
She is crying.
I can't believe it.
Was it an accident?
She says no.
He locked himself in the shed with the car running.
This tiny volume is a limited edition reprinting of the original Rubblestone Press edition from 2003.
I hope David UU would be pleased.
ABOUT THE AUTHORNelson Ball is a poet and bookseller living in Paris, Ontario. He has worked as a labourer, chauffeur, clerk, seasonal forest ranger, record store clerk and janitor. From 1965 to 1973 he ran the legendary Weed/Flower Press, publishing mimeo editions of early books by Victor Coleman, Carol Bergé, David McFadden, David UU, bill bissett, bpNichol and many others. Ball edited a new edition of Nichol's Konfessions of an Elizabethan Fan Dancer, published by Coach House in 2004. He is the author of 30 poetry books and chapbooks.