Poem About The Train. Ben Ladouceur. Apt.9 Press. Ottawa, Ontario. 2014.
Poem About The Train is another impressive notch in the belt of the ever astonishing Ben Ladouceur. This marvelous chapbook-type folder is just another confirmation of what many of us have suspected. The young Mr. Ladouceur is one of the most exciting new voices in Canadian poetry.
I've met Ben, I think we may have even shared a drink one evening when he still lived in Ottawa. But I don't know Ben Ladouceur. So it can't be considered favouritism when I tell you that Ladouceur is that rare cat who really does have his feet on the ground and his head in the stratosphere. He makes fine poetry.
Poem About The Train is an entirely lovely romp. This long poem is printed on individual, loose leaf sheets the size of old train tickets. They are numbered and assembled in a lovely pocket-sized folder. The ever-imaginative Apt.9 Press continues to impress with its' expanding repertoire of inventive ways to publish poetry.
To hate a place forever, just get lost there once.
Let greens give pause
to you, let hours flee like white dormice
after a sound occurs. The wild things eat
hours up, pendulums
hanging from the damned mouths. You'll never come back
Poem About The Train is one longish poem about Ladouceur's observations from one train trip. We can be grateful for whatever journey Ladouceur chooses to take. He will illuminate it. The adventure isn't the trip, it is his telling of it.
Today's book of poetry would want to read a Ladouceur poem if it were about drying paint. He just has so much to share with us, and so far, it has all been golden. Cherse as Spencer Tracy would say.
Those were the best three cigarettes I've ever smoked.
carcinogen will lie in three shadows.
I was grateful for the company, though.
I know you didn't have
to leave your berth; it had a window, a view.
Ladouceur writes a great line, and then he does it again and again and again.
He's also a horny rake and that is in here too. Read elegant rut.
Along with Queen Anne's Lace, osprey, eggshells and possums and beans.
Ladouceur harvests nature through the window of a moving train along the way to making his journey a somewhat epic adventure, certainly making for a fine read.
Where I'm off to, cats scavenge, throw their small-hearted
game on the porch.
Their gifts bloat and develop seams through which
tenants take claim. They burrow in the fur
and skin, bones and offal,
to find it. With their stingers, they can keep it.
I'll get there when the moon is halved. The dotage
of these mountains
silhouetted to a percentage, still
cumbersome to a man like me: small, small
of heart. From windows, herbs
will hang, and from bookcases, and from marquees.
A topless woman will come to the yard, and a
will cut the first's brassy hair. Three geese will
chafe their endless necks with the lost trimmings.
The first woman will take
the other's blouse and scissors and requite her.
The dogs crave heat, where I'm off to, back in sunbeams
until the dusk,
at which point they bring you their fetching sticks.
Outlasting the simmering riptide of
the summer, of the day.
Their coats half-moon-lit. Their coats, at least, half-lit.
Poem About The Train is written in what Ladouceur has referred to as "syllabic verse heavily inspired by Marianne Moore". At first my silly brain thought they were a form of sestina. It is time for me to go back to school. Whatever, the result is one of those magic tricks where form vanishes because it is used to perfection.
Today's book of poetry has nothing but jealous praise for the poems of Ben Ladouceur.
Coach House Books has just published Ladouceur's first full book of poetry, Otter, and bless their cotton socks, they sent me a copy. It is magnificent and you will be hearing more about that here, anon. It is, without doubt, one of the best books of poems I've read in a long, long time.
Photo: Pearl Pirie
ABOUT THE AUTHORBen Ladouceur is a writer originally from Ottawa, now based in Toronto. His work has been featured in Arc, The Malahat Review, PRISM international and The Walrus, and in the Best Canadian Poetry anthology. He was awarded the Earle Birney Poetry Prize in 2013.
Tree Reading Series
April 26, 2011
Video: Tree Reading Series
Today's book of poetry is a one-man operation, my staff, typists, interns, etc, are all fictional. But I do have a secret weapon. Frequently, just after I've posted my blog, my dear old friend, compatriot, mentor, piano-playing poet wizard and lost big brother pain in the ass buddy Ward Maxwell writes me to correct my constant spelling/typing errors. He bats almost perfect because of all those years of editing.
All of that to say that when my blog is without error it is almost certainly because of Ward's help.
When it is full of errors - that is also his fault. He just isn't aware of it yet.
Today's book of poetry owes an enormous and on-going debt to the thankless efforts of my pal Ward who has no idea of how much I appreciate it. Today's book of poetry give an official hat-doffing to Mr. Maxwell, my own private Art Tatum.
You can see some of what Ward Maxwell gets up to here:
Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher. They are shown here for publicity and review purposes. For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.