Saturday, September 26, 2015

Blue Night Express - Bardia Sinaee (Anstruther Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Blue Night Express.  Bardia Sinaee.  Anstruther Press.  Toronto, Ontario.  2015.

Today's book of poetry is a big fan of full disclosure - I know Bardia Sinaee well enough that I can call him my friend.  In our short acquaintance I have called him many things, to his face -- but usually when he is out of earshot.  I probably talk about Bardia more that he would be comfortable with, I've been telling anyone who would listen that Bardia Sinaee is, in my mind, one of our very best young poets.

Blue Night Express only confirms what I've been jabbering about all along.  Sinaee's poems are pools of crystal clear water in a world where muddying the proceedings is often the order of the day.

Man On Verandah

Awake in shadows lie
the cats, while armoured, copper-
coloured bugs scale

the wall behind
the laundromat to taste our blood.
So mannered is

the waxing moon
and sheperd-like above a bank
of clouds, I can

almost feel Colville
painting a revolver next to me
to lend the scene

a little tension. but
it's enough to be awake when
others aren't.

To think there is
a lake not far from here. Across
the street, profiled

in computer glare,
a woman sits so fixedly upright
you'd think she

swallowed a cane,
like Whistler's mother if Mrs. Whistler
ever took her

bonnet off. Raccoons
alight from eavestroughs with
their night scopes

on the trash.
A blackened elm with elm disease
dispatches shrunken,

blackened leaves.
A blunt, diffusive dark prevails until
police lights crest

the hill, searching
the side streets for trouble or
trouble's silhouette.


I could talk about the different poets I see dancing around in Bardia's brain, his lovely nod to Ezra, just because he knows.  But instead I want to tell you how tickled I was when Blue Night Express came through the door, so tickled I barely noticed it's lovely Anstruther Press compatriot, Kayla Czaga's Enemy of the People.  You will all remember that Czaga won the 2nd annual KITTY LEWIS HAZEL MILLER DENNIS TOURBIN POETRY PRIZE here at TBOP.  Fine, fine company for Bardia and HEY!, Anstruther Press - great work on publishing these two.  History will show how wise you are.

Sinaee's poetry always strikes just the right note between sarcasm and wisdom.  Sincerity has become a dirty word, a saccharine insult, but when done right, like in the poetry of Bardia Sinaee, these poems rise above any cheap sentiment and truthfully, crisply, clearly, cut to the heart of matters.


How harrowing the prospect
That there may be no clandestine agency after all,
Only our clamouring until we've built on spent faith
What we'd sooner take up arms for than name.

By now there ought to be some sort of saying for it:
To march all day through toppled statuary
And flags snapping in a trumped-up wind,
Surprised to find oneself inclined
Toward such hopefully destructive sentiments
As might find expression in a goose step chant.

I love my people, even you who have already yielded
To some private notion of the future,
One that alarms even you, that scales your fortitude
Then pleads for understanding.


Here's my memory of meeting Bardia.  At 52 I went back to university full time and jumped into the deep end.  Turns out I came in 2nd in a campus literary competition.  I don't remember my poem at all, although at the time I thought it winning enough, but I certainly remember the 1st place poem. Meet Bardia Sinaee.  As soon as I heard his poem, which I had been in a complete competitive slather over, I resolved two things - tell the man how fine I thought his poem was, become that man's friend.

Luckily I know the executives here at TBOP and have a free pass.  Otherwise, how could I gush so?
When I read Bardia Sinaee's poems they give me hope.  I can not reach any further for a compliment.


Like the tide, silence asserts itself
Through a series of microaggressions, it's raining the same rain
On every station, doomsday theories infiltrate
The nations, profligate and free
In theory, we condemn silence in all its
Driftwood and spores, sleeper cells
Ensnare us from within
Like the Trojans, the nations disperse into new names

As silence is issued from clefts in the air
Like rain, I think we should sing
While we are together in danger, doomsday theories get stranger
With every station, a headlong grave
When the train pulls in
Like wreckage on the shore, I think we can be saved


Blue Night Express is everything you can ask from a chapbook.  It is both beautiful to look at and filled with beautiful, bright and sophisticated poems.  Sinaee always assumes his audience is as brilliant as he is.

Bardia Sinaee

Bardia Sinaee was born in Tehran, Iran and currently lives in Toronto.  He has poems forthcoming in 
The Malahat Review and The Best Canadian Poetry 2015 (Tightrope Books).

Bardie Sinaee
Reading at the Tree Reading Series, Ottawa
August 9, 2011



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