Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wavelengths of Your Song - Eleonore Schonmaier (McGill-Queen's University Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Wavelengths of Your Song.  Eleonore Schonmaier.  McGill-Queen's University Press.  The Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series #26.  Montreal & Kingston, London, Ithaca.

Eleonore Schonmaier's Wavelengths of Your Song really does have something for everyone.  She is able to find beauty everywhere and express it so that you are transported, she takes us to the North Sea to watch a black horse swim, gives us cello music saintly as prayer and so on.

What Today's book of poetry liked most about this book was how long it took to read it.  I re-read many of the poems in Wavelengths of Your Song several times before I could move on.  Not because I didn't understand - but precisely because I did and wanted to know more about how they worked.


I explain to the customs
agent that my suitcase
is filled with stones

and spider tales
preserved like messages
in a bottle, I can tell from the look

on her face that she'd rather
be talking to a terrorist, and wishes
her colleagues were the ones

left to deal with the wackos.
It's only a story, I say, and
unfortunately add, I suppose

you prefer
people to simply lie? She asks then
if she can feel

my breasts, I tell her
they are shaped
like the polished

beach pebbles
I'm transporting,
that they're white

and pink like the spider
I saw inside a wild rose
and if she touches

me she can only do so
with all the others


Schonmaier would seem to be one of those people who has read everything, been everywhere and can identify ever major musical opus.  Normally that would irritate Today's book of poetry but  Eleonore Schonmaier can burn, burn, burn.  These poems work big time and all the time.

Sitting on the front porch this morning Today's book of poetry saw a murder of crows land in the tall fir tree just up the street.  It might have been a reminder to us to comment on Schonmaier's affection for the northern Canadian wilderness of her youth.  There is a natural environmentalism romping through these adventures, Schonmaier is able to give voice to the connection she has with the world and make it splendid.

Music and art get more than walk-on parts as well.  Norval Morrisseau is in here along with Kandinsky, Kafka, Celan.  Beethoven and Rzewski chime in with a soundtrack.

As If

As if we could
stroll all day

along the shore
heading south.

As if the sky
was our art

gallery, and
our thoughts

a curation.
As if the

horizon was 

As if we
could whisper

among the long-grass

of the dunes.
As if I could rest

a shell in your hand
and this shell would

not be empty.
As if

the shell
could hold

what the heart


This morning's read was a heated affair, no air-conditioning in our offices.  Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, led the charge as these poems travelled from one great green sea to the next.

Today's book of poetry would be remiss if we did not mention that Eleonore Schonmaier's Wavelengths of Your Song also has moments of high erotic tension, tender and delicate as first love, and others as hard as the splash of illicit skin on skin.

Bathing of the Black Horse

Waves thudding into his legs
the horse pulls back to shore,
but the woman tugs the lead
and they go deeper and

deeper into the sea, until
finally the horse
swims alongside her.
When we understand

euphoria will we lessen
the constant rushing
need: after their swim,
woman and horse race

across the sand: resting
on towels the nude men
stare: roseate terns dive and arise
with glistening fish.


This is accomplished poetry.  Schonmaier takes no shortcuts.  Today's book of poetry enjoyed Wavelengths of Your Song and suggests you will too.

Eleonore Schonmaier

Eleonore Schonmaier's award winning poetry has been publsihed and translated internationally.  Her previous book is the critically accalimed Treading Fast Rivers.   She divides her time between Canada and the Netherlands.


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.

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