Today's book of poems: The Chimney Stone, Rob Winger. Nightwood Editions. Gibson, B.C.. 2010.
Phyllis Webb. Adrienne Rich. John Thompson. Emmylou Harris. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Trent Reznor. Johnny Cash. June Carter. Wayne Gretzky. Michael Ondaatje. Paul Simon. Peter Gabriel. Dennis Lee. Gaston Bachelard. Joni Mitchell. Al Purdy. Don Domanski. Bob Dylan. Arthur Motyer. Arthur Rimbaud. Dionne Brand. U2. Agha Shahid Ali. Margaret Atwood. Gord Downie. Margaret Avison. the Clash. Spalding Gray. Dead Kennedys. John Coltrane. Talking Heads. Mark Twain.
All of these writers, songwriters, thinkers, appear en masse in these sparse and very finely tuned ghazals.
Winger follows up Muybridge's Horse, a book of heft and density (all good), with this slim volume packed to the gills with everything from the Garden of Eden to the kitchen sink. It is all speeding by faster than you can comprehend, but somehow, the brain recognizes, cogitates and puts these puzzles pieces together. Actually it is Winger who has done that for your brain. With no small flourish.
Sometimes, and this is one of those cases, I find others explain what I feel far more clearly than I can, so here is Kevin Connolly's take on Winger's The Chimney Stone:
The Chimney Stone at first seems to be a book about love, then suddenly a book about influence (perhaps the influence of love and a love of one's influences) and finally, a book that parses the often testy question of inspiration in is most basic, arcane, and visceral senses. There's a great skill here line to line, word to word, but the quiet directness of the poems is what shines; art not just the nod to other art it always is, but a doorway to tackling the larger problems of being.
Winger's writing is consistently smart and clean. The Chimney Stone challenges the reader to keep up, rewards every step.