Inderjit (@InderjitDeogun) is an Art History graduate, an environmentalist and a loud-and-proud bookworm. When she’s not fighting against climate change, she has her nose stuck in a book. With a particular love for children’s literature, Inderjit believes a word can be worth a thousand pictures. This is her second year participating in the 50 Book Pledge. To visit Inderjit’s bookshelf click here and be sure to check back monthly for her 50 Book Pledge updates!
In an interview with Shusha Guppy of The Paris Review, Yves Bonnefoy said, “Poet is a word one can use when speaking of others, if one admires them sufficiently.” Well, I’m happy to introduce you all to James Pollock, poet.
This year, Pollock’s collection Sailing to Babylon was on the Canadian shortlist for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Here’s part of Judge Mark Doty’s citation, “The sentence, in James Pollock’s remarkably assured debut volume, is a unit of music and of time, a carefully modulated choreography that moves the reader through an elegantly constructed set of meditations on place and history and the education of the self.”
Before I picked Sailing to Babylon I had made the resolution to read a poem a day as part of a renewed commitment to my own poetry. And I’m so thankful I chose Pollock because I can’t remember the last time I was so moved by a single collection. After each poem I had to stop and allow myself the time to marvel at Pollock’s mastery. In fact, I reread each of his poems multiple times just to make sure there wasn’t some hidden gem I had missed.
The extraordinary thing about Sailing to Babylon is Pollock’s ability to recall an action, a moment or an object with tremendous elegance. And I completely agree with Michael Lista of the National Post when he said, “we get a vision of an old world, freighted with history” because in the pages of Sailing to Babylon Pollock revisits his past and sees it with absolute understanding.
If only he could watch his teacher read
and, gazing, could learn there at his desk
in the winter light of Hillcrest Public School
and listen as she speaks the strangest words—
with her vivid face, her braided hair
and dark eyes like a real and ordinary
siren’s—if only he could wait like that
forever while Miss Harmon reads The Odyssey
(his kind young teacher with the ringing voice
he loves so much he lets the story sing
into his heart), she would peal out of him,
swaying above him like a slender bell,
the breaking changes of a life to come.
~ “The Poet at Seven”
Sailing to Babylon reminded me why I fell in love with poetry in the first place. From “My Grandmother’s Bible” to “Ex Patria” to “The Museum of Death” it’s a must read volume for newcomers and aficionados alike.
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