Consider The Paragliders. Patricia Young. Baseline Press. London, Ontario. 2018.
Today's book of poetry has had the pleasure of venturing into Patricia Young territory before. Back in April of last year Today's book of poetry wrote about Patricia Young's Short Takes on the Apocalypse.
You can see that here:
We had Milo, our head tech, retrieve Short Takes on the Apocalypse along with What I remember from my time on earth (House of Anansi Press, 1997), Night-Eater (Quatro Poetry, 2012) and Melancholy Ain't No Baby (Ragweed Press, 1985). It is a small Young sampling but we have our Today's book of poetry book scouts searching for Young's many other titles.
It is safe to say that Today's book of poetry is an admirer of Patricia Young's poetry. Consider The Paragliders is what happens when you put a pro in the lineup. Young will only enhance her considerable reputation with this book of little diamonds. Poems clear as glass, multi-faceted, sparkling in the right light and harder than nails when needed.
In Short Take on the Apocalypse Young kick-started her poems with the wisdom of various notables and then riffed. Consider The Paragliders consists of eighteen short sharp prose poems where her grandfather, father and husband come and go but Young always seems braced and ready for flight.
Lost and Found
We found a tan suitcase lying open in the grass outside the Cherry
Bank Hotel. Genuine rawhide, leather handle. I was eighteen and
pregnant. He played Dylan on his guitar, stocked shelves at a liquor
store in the mall. We'd been to a movie, a spaghetti western. Two
hours of human cruelty and searing landscapes. The suitcase was
stained and worn at the corners, empty except for a postcard of
Niagara Falls. On the back, an apology to Yvette. He said a woman's
script, I said a man's. That night, while he slept, my water broke. I
pulled the suitcase out from under the bed, threw in a toothbrush and
secondhand baby clothes. It was vintage. Satin lining. Brass latches.
Just the right size for a girl on the run.
Today's book of poetry found so much to admire in Young's tight little movies. Perhaps Young is mythologizing the youth of her memory, like all of us, we relive those necessary moments whether they are good or bad.
Patricia Young, in this beautiful little monster from Baseline Press, is like Babe Ruth in the batting cage knocking every single ball into the seats. These poems are dreamscapes where life is compressed into Young's sharp script and her "words appear on the paper."
The Writing Life
I sat on the edge of a hotel bed, writing in a notepad. I asked for
nothing. Like a canoe leaning against a fence or a peach sapling in
bloom. No, that's not true. I wrote from inside a burning building.
the way Lucy, bipedal ancestor, might have written, standing upright
on the savannah. Words appearing on the paper. Without thinking, I
ran a finger over their cuneiform shapes, I wrote like every girl in a
school uniform, shivering at a bus stop, every boy on a street corner,
weeping into his phone: Will I see you again? My script grew sharp and
angular. My sentences gained traction. My voice lined up with my
body's center of gravity. Don't believe me. I'm a liar. I wrote
everywhere and nowhere. Against all odds. Down a manhole. In the
end I became what I wrote, an old man up a ladder stuffing rags into a
Our morning read was better than Crapitalism and the daily evening news. The gang gushed our way through Consider The Paragliders and then had a free for all with Short Takes on the Apocalypse, Melancholy Ain't No Baby, Night-Eater and What I remember from my time on earth.
Today's book of poetry has long admired the way Young talks and Consider The Paragliders only adds gravy to her reputation. We've known Young can burn with the best for a long time.
Logs, escaped from passing booms, washing up on the beach in front
of our house. A devout Christian lived next door. He wore a gas mask
and was often seen praying. On blustery days the sky above the strait
was a festival of brilliant nylon wings. My neighbor paid me by the
hour to shift the boxes in his crawlspace from one corner to another.
Or I'd wipe the hard covers of his religious texts with a damp rag and
organic cleaning compound. The year I turned thirteen, he moved
into a tent in his yard, but briquette fumes from summer barbecues
drove him back inside. He gave me small gifts. From Hawaii, a vial of
white sand. From New Mexico, a stone vase that could hold a single
stem. Some nights I'd open my bedroom window and imagine I saw
God. Consider the paragliders, I'd intone. They fear not, neither do they
worry. See them leap off high cliffs. How the updraft carries them aloft.
Today's book of poetry admires the chapbooks Baseline Press consistently presents as books of poetry, in fact every Baseline Press book is a beautiful little testament to the love of printing and publishing as well as poetry.
Japanese Obonai Feather paper flyleafs. Be still my beating heart. Consider The Paragliders continues Baselines fine tradition of excellent poetry inside of sublime and beautiful artifacts. Patricia Young will get all the credit for the poems in Consider The Paragliders, and rightly so, but Karen Schindler and her team at Baseline always do the poems every due consideration with their beautiful little books.
Today's book of poetry has been cruising in neutral a little lately. Not sure if someone put something in our oil or if we got some bad gas. But we're getting our engine checked and fluids topped up, a proper tune-up and we'll be back to regular service a.s.a.p..
ABOUT THE AUTHORPatricia Young has published 11 collections of poetry and one of short fiction. Her awards include the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and she has twice been nominated for the Governor General's Award for poetry. A new poetry collection is forthcoming in 2018 with Goose Lane Editions.
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