Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sinners Dance — Darrell Epp (Mosaic Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Sinners Dance.  Darrell Epp.  Mosaic Press.  Oakville, Ontario.  2017.

sinners dance by darrell epp

Today's book of poetry is willing to go down any road Darrell Epp chooses to take us.  Sinners Dance continues the hard driving standard we've come to expect from Mr. Epp.

Sinners Dance is the third title by Darrell Epp that Today's book of poetry has explored.  You can find links to Today's book of poetry and After Hours (Mosaic Press, 2016) and Imaginary Maps (Signature Editions) right here:

The only thing that has changed with Darrell Epp's new poetry, Sinners Dance, is that the beautiful bastard is getting better.  He's upped his game.  Sinners Dance brims with lovely movies and astonishing novels, all sorts of entertainments, disguised as tight, brief and illuminating poems.

Left Lung

the fuzzy black spot on the x-ray reminded
him of a dark star which reminded him of a
movie but this was no movie, the specialist
was very sorry, left lung he said but meant
right lung, the image was reversed, how odd
to be alive, standing in the hub of the world's
sweaty churning in a miami dolphins jersey
not knowing what to say, where to aim. he
thought of that end-times prophet preaching
in front of jackson square; the beast rising
from the sea, the woman with MYSTERY
tattooed on her forehead. he wished he'd
listened, he wished he'd hugged him, why
hadn't he hugged him, he thought of being
a kid, racing his bike up the ramp, catching
air, defying gravity, moments so pregnant
they were building blocks for every other
moment, like fighting against rush hour
traffic, the endless throbbing of it all, he
headed down main west toward james st.,
he'd find that guy waving his homemade
signs, he'd touch him, and as the stock
exchange wound down, as tanks moved
across the desert, confess everything.


Darrell Epp's poetry often leads to fits of jealousy for Today' book of poetry, when what I really want is to share how fine I find these poems.  One of Epp's excellent tricks is to allow the reader instant access.  Epp doesn't put anything between the story he wants to tell and the reader.  The reader digests these poems on contact.

Another thing about Sinners Dance, Epp is getting wiser.  So many of these poems wrap up the frayed edges of our thinking.  Today's book of poetry isn't suggesting that Darrell Epp suddenly has the answer to everything, instead his poetry leads us, without impediment, to the right questions.

Winter Dream

'talking about shopping is not really talking,'
she said, that's why she didn't answer
jill's texts anymore, that's why she blocked
her on facebook. i said, 'there's an
alternative world where i'm an mvp,
a vip, with dozens of grandkids.'
she said, 'that's cool,' and carved
obscenities with her thumb into
the frost caked on the window.
that winter the world was our
idea, our boozy chauffeur, our
hunchbacked prankmonkey
somersaulting on command.
the spell lasted until the cat
got sick, the vet's disdainful
looks made us feel like guilty
truants, she gave him the finger
as i paid the pharmacist, then
the pipes froze on us and nine
months later she was teaching
english on the island of kyoto.


Today's book of poetry has Pharoah Saunders on the box this morning and that should come as no surprise.  Our morning read was led, with brisk enthusiasm, by Milo, our head tech.  Milo suggested we come up with a name, a title, a designation of some respect, per se, for the poets we've visited at least three times.

Off the top of my snowy-white head memory would suggest that list include Nelson Ball, Sue Goyette, Stuart Ross and now Darrell Epp.  We will have to look a little closer to confirm our list.

Today's book of poetry is open to suggestion.  We threw Milo's idea around the room and liked it, then we agreed we'd wait until we heard what you readers thought.  We can't wait to hear what you think.

Once we started reading Darrell Epp's Sinners Dance, everyone on our staff entered Epp world and did our best to hammer these fine poems home.

Halo of Flies

i'm patrolling my turf, counting the windows without
glass, the bakeries and shoe stores turned into squats.
this is where ifrah hitched a ride on the handlebars of
my mountain bike, this is where lily informed me we
had nothing in common, she made it sound like she
was imparting the secret of the universe and i could
barely stifle a yawn. that's the first escape where we
looked for mars the war god through your brother's
telescope, had chin-up contests off the ladder. i give
it a tug and the metal groans and shakes, oxidation
takes no prisoners. rust always wins but he doesn't
have to be so smug about it. i'll come back with a
camera, i'll record all the fading signage before
the demolition crews make way for gentrification.
i'm in the dog house because i forgot valentine's
day, my wife says i seem distracted, my head's
an empty bag, my heart's a corroded cog, my
left brain trips up my right brain like a saboteur,
i see consciousness as a halo of flies, as the
900-pound gorilla on the other end of the
seesaw. i step on a crack, say a prayer, give
thanks for the men who poured the concrete,
laid the bricks and pipes we take for granted,
recall there's grace enough for everybody.


"recall there's grace enough for everybody."  That is a great line and a fine end.

Today's book of poetry has always liked lists.  Darrell Epp is going on our list, the list we keep close for ready referral.  Sinners Dance will reel you around the floor, make you guilty-dizzy in parts, happy-dizzy in others.

That's some good dancing.

Image result for darrell epp photo

Darrell Epp

Darrell Epp’s poetry has appeared in dozens of magazines including Maisonneuve, Poetry Ireland, Sub-Terrain, and The Saranac Review. His previous poetry collection include Imaginary Maps (Signature Editions, 2009) and After Hours (Mosaic Press, 2016). Darrell lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

Sinners Dance places the reader in a pre-apocalyptic world, clearly recognizable as our own …There is wit in Epp’s writing, but the overall view of life is bleak, the guardians of our civilization blind, the maps deceiving.”
     – Bernadette Rule, Hamilton Review of Books

“Epp’s poems have a distinct Hamilton flavour, he also says there are certain truths and experiences everyone can identify with, no matter where they live.”
     – Emma Reilly, Interview & Feature in the Hamilton Spectator

Darrell Epp
Pregnant Fly Dead on my Windshield
Video:  Darrell Epp


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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