Monday, December 29, 2014

Albrecht Durer And Me - David Zieroth (Harbour Publishing)

Today's book of poetry:
Albrecht Durer And Me.  David Zieroth.  Harbour Publishing.  Madeira Park, British Columbia.  2014.

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.

If this happened to all of us when we traveled, no one would ever stay home.

What a marvelous way of traveling.

David Zieroth might not be a big name in poetry where you live but his name gets a lot of traction here, in this house.  His mature and elegant poetry always breathes excellence.

You can think of this book as a travelogue.

Viennese Shoes

in Wien, even the homeless wear good shoes
or at least one bedraggled, bearded, filthy-
coated giant managed uncommonly decent leather
brogues that toe-curl a bit, an Italian smile
intimating heat and lust and care for craft

yes, any change of place forces up generalizations
rife and ready, and even knowing how quickly
scenes arise in the mind: lithe men, short hair
long strides, briefcases, or young artists debating
over Styrian beer and new wine spritzers the edge
of mathematical, abstract space - I know really

very little: glittering steel lines of the tram
on Ungargasse, straight under my feet
and along some sections, short grass snuggles
green against silver - earth and engineering
power-sharing - what could either say to the other
about times when heels of famous men

clacked these cobblestones: Freud's boots, how he
slipped into leather smoothly pleased with strength,
and Hitler's shoes, paint bespattered, then further back
and further back again until an Ottoman stands
outside the ringed wall of the city, 300 cannon strong
the story goes, Grand Vizier Pasha tapping
his magnificent Asian slippers on these stones.


In Albrecht Durer And Me, Zieroth takes us on a trip through central Europe where he reflects on art and humanity.  The people we become when there is that change that movement brings.  When there is new soil under our feet, new language in our ears, we sometimes soar.

Albrecht Durer And Me

     at the Albertina Museum

his entire life he thought
of death approaching
it was the century syphilis arrived
1500 meant the end of time
one self-portrait an imitation
of Christ

for me, it's his rabbit
each ear bent differently, every
whisker visible
its mood pensive
another sort of portrait

and his monogram -
AD, 1502 (same year
his medieval father died) -
floats beneath the brown foot
as I float

back to rodents I snared
in a winter garden
frozen next day
and still the fur soft
(or back to fuzzy lucky
charms on key rings
among coins in pockets
of the slightly odd)

from him almost all
German art springs, begins
from me up pops this poem
when here I stand
(wanting to touch the painting
and feel the fur again)
one of many awed viewers
this young hare has seen
in five centuries
even as he draws into
the calm before trembling
to ponder his animal thought

and from my departing train
I see him once more
a tall buck alert in rows
any frame - through red dots
of waving wild poppies
defining the farmer's field
draw me eye to his readiness
for leaping


From his first book, Clearing: Poems From a Journey (1973), Zieroth has been a traveller and an especially keen observer.  Through How I Joined Humanity At Last (1998) up until now, with his tenth volume of poetry, Albrecht Durer And Me (2014), Zieroth has humbly created a great body of poetry.

Weeds Grew While I Was Away

I expected what?
an unchanged patch
of pure stasis, stems
unaltered, exactly as
the morning I glanced back
from the cab, my face sunny
not this yellow of greeters
trumpeting on my lawn
crowding the walk where birds
splatter white words
around the grey face
of the garden stone
that has not altered, cool
under my hand, a spot more
lichen-wrinkle persisting

- that this filigree lives
so little, unlike the rise
and fall we are made of
we hardly care, so pleased
we along measure how slow
rock crumbles, as we touch it
we rub against time and find
we triumph: listen
to our watery laughter
when sun lights up skin
we have animal pleasure
knowing and loving
even ragweeds with their vigour
and niche so like our own
in urgencies coming and going

Zieroth also reminds us of the sweetness of returning home, knowing where we came from, how we got there.

David Zieroth

David Zieroth has published several books of poetry including The Fly in Autumn, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry, and How I Joined Humanity at Last, which won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.  He taught at Douglas College in New Westminister, BC, before retiring and founding the Alfred Gustac Press.  Born in Neepawa, Manitoba, he lives in North Vancouver, BC.

"David Zieroth has long displayed in his poetry a subtle and unique faithfulness to following invisible threads through the world -- hearing calls and offering responses, speaking spells.  In this collection, as he turns the largesse of his poetic attentiveness to the inescapably symbolic activity of travel -- to the rich roads of distance within and without his poetic individuality -- the results are evocative, enlarging, and touch often at deep mystery.  Albrecht Durer And Me is a gift to the reader -- a marvel of an addition to Zieroth's ongoing oeuvre."
     - Russell Thornton, author of Birds, Metals, Stones and Rain


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