Friday, May 3, 2013

Timely Irreverence - Jay MillAr

Today's book of poetry:  Timely Irreverence.  a blewointment book.  Nightwood Editions.  Gibsons, British Columbia.  2013.

Today's admission may already be obvious, my poetic tastes tend to the more traditional line.  Experimental poetry often leaves me dumbstruck.  Jay MillAr is not wildly experimental but he is fond of pushing boundaries.

The title poem of this collection:

Timely Irreverence

The snow outside.
White that makes things
taller.  The fence, for instance,
or the branches of the trees,
all their lines layered now beneath
lines that seem thicker than their weight.
I'm inside.  I'm tinkering with these lines
while I wait patiently for the hippies
to die.  When that finally happens
a great weight will be lifted
from our shoulders, and
we will, at last, be free.


No experimentation there but a taste of MillAr's "irreverence".

MillAr doesn't always take the expected poetic route but I identified strongly with his sentiments when he says in his poem The Patience of Dreams, "Today when I awoke I felt so small, as if rounded by ancient history."

Fred Wah, one of our great poets had this to say about MillAr's latest:  Timely Irreverence is a lesson in poetic interrogation and meditation.  These poems layer the quotidian with such tenacity, and with such clarity, that it becomes hard to distinguish the world from the poem.  MillAr folds the practice of the poem into his dailyness and back again in a conversation that literally has the stanza and the book talking to itself.  This is a poetics of the domestic that insists on being present and mindful to the obvious, as simple, and as complex, as "the thought of snow falling."

Louis Cabri suggested MillAr was a blend of Raymond Souster, David McFadden, Edwin Denby but the biggest part made up of Tony Towle.  As I had never heard of Tony Towle I had to go looking.  Towle is described by Ken Bolton in Overland Magazine as "urbane, hilariously ornate, selfconcious, lyrical, discursive, a sensibility that is both Romantic &, at times new-Augustan, Pop & high-brow, thoughtful & playful, rhapsodic & dry.  A really terrific poet."

Louis Cabri and Fred Wah both articulated why MillAr matters, if you get a chance to read Timely Irreverence the ironic MillAr will tell you that himself.

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