After finishing Kenneth Sherman's new sequence of poems, Black River, (Porcupine's Quill, 2007) I lay back and realised I have been living in the fast lane of prose--library work, book selling, blogging, book clubbing, periodical reading-- for too long. Reading these poems I found myself rediscovering a natural breath and rhythm, and I was carried along with the poet's evocatively natural, yet nuanced choice of words making ripples upon the surface as he journeyed along the Black River.
To have the time to read poetry, or to make the time to read poetry, is important. As Kenneth Sherman says: "Stop and search beneath life's flux / if you wish to discover your will, / your forbearance." (p.55) It is healthy and ultimately life affirming to meditate on the past, our place in the present, and on the ghosts of history that surround us, for we live with "forgetfulness / and nightmare blood below the surface." (p.29) His references to the First Nations people and the Holocaust make us mindful of man's inhumanity to man, and that our surface culture, fast moving and forward looking, is blind, and quick to leave the past behind.
For those who escape each weekend to the cottage life, this slim volume of poetry would be a good companion. One to make us mindful and much more conscious of our relationship to this land and to those we share it with; If you don't have a cottage, yet know someone who does, order one, it would be an ideal thank you gift for that invitation to visit.
Like all books issued by Porcupine's Quill, it is a fine papered edition printed and bound with great artistry. The cover and the images in the text are by the Canadian print maker George Raab. The book was readied for the press by Eric Ormsby.