Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Afloat - John Reibetanz

Today's book of poetry:  Afloat.  John Reibetanz.  Brick Books.  London.  2013.

The first thing I have learned from blogging about poetry is how little I know.  I have been operating under the illusion that I was well versed in contemporary Canadian poetry.  How could I not be?  I read it constantly, have been collecting Canadian poetry passionately for forty years.  Yet in the last couple of weeks it has been made crystal clear to me that there are scores of well published poets in Canada that I am unfamiliar with.

One such poet was John Reibetanz.  Afloat is his eighth book of poetry, he has been short-listed for the national ReLit Award for poetry and has won the international Petra Kenney Poetry Competition.

Afloat is a multi-tiered investigation of water, a meditation that ranges from the harsh beauty of the photography of Edward Burtynsky and his represented rivers of sorrow -- to the Three Gorges Dam and discussions of how society and culture are shaped by water.

These poems bristle, they are taut.

This is a short excerpt from the opening poem:

The Love of Water

All nature, from the crag windbreakered in granite
that melts into the nuzzling of the clouds' wet snouts.

to the motes of grit that rise up every morning
and dance in a fountain over the windowsill,

all nature wants to be water.  Curled tongues of fire
and sharp tongues of wind stutter and lisp through forests,

longing for the fluency of streams.


Curious George, Nazi tanks, Monarch butterflies, they are all found floating in the ocean of Reibetanz's poems.  Afloat is a book bursting with ideas and imagination, those are always a pleasure.

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