Friday, November 15, 2013

Medallions Of Belief - Fred Wah

Today's book of poetry:  Medallions Of Belief.  Fred Wah.  Book Thug.  Toronto, Ontario.  2012.

In Medallions Of Belief  Fred Wah takes on the Occasional Poem.  Occasional poetry is written to mark an event.  It could be a wedding song or a dirge, but it is usually of note because of the poets connection to the event, the occasion.  Most often an "occasional" poem is one written for public performance.  Think of the inauguration of American President Barack Obama and Elizabeth Alexander's poem "Praise Song for the Day".

But not all occasional poetry is written for historical events.

Winter:  65th Year

the roads feel longer after 54
the age my father danced to
as he fell to the bathroom floor
dreaming of islands
mountains and oceans crossed

a final new bed for the back
a little pain behind our conversation

another winter full of night

its dark brightened by the snow
foot falls awkward, a hesitation

older but knowing no better
still in love, wanting
that good song to be sung
inging it ahead
into the dark beyond
the high beam
hoping

...

Fred Wah has a large body of celebrated work that ranges in style.  Medallions Of Belief is another stop on Wah's illuminated journey, he invites us along to trundle the path with him.  These poems read like comfort food and are as smart as the dictionary.  As always, Fred Wah seems the Wise Man, but there is nothing pompous to any of this, quite the contrary, Wah is comfortable in these pages, his language always the voice of reason.

To The Dogs

Dear Bear,
Be aware
this door
should make you
stop and stare.

Mostly fir
and pretty thick
the bark is gone
but the scent is fixed

Dear dogs,
Late at night
our hunger
is a love with bite.

I can smell you
on the other side
and feel a need
that won't subside

The dogs the bears
the nights the moon
the distant dreams
and appetite.

Absence is a door
that all pass through
the I that opens to a You.

Kick it open
make it slide
where's a door
we haven't tried.

...

Medallions Of Belief is another lovely looking chapbook from Toronto's Book Thug who continue to pump out important works by some of Canada's most important poets.  But Medallions Of Belief is really just a teaser.  Here is a partial list of Wah's publications:

Lordeau  (1965)
Mountain  (1967)
Among  (1972)
Tree  (1972)
Earth  (1974)
Pictograms from the Interior of B.C.  (1975)
Snow Fall  (1977)
Selected Poems:  Loki is Buried at Smoky Creek  (1980)
Owners Manual  (1981)
Breathin' My Name With a Sigh  (1981)
All The Maps  (1981)
Stomach  (1981)
Grasp The Sparrow's Tail  (1982)
Waiting for Saskatchewan  (1985)
The Swift Current Anthology, edited with Frank Davey  (1986)
Rooftops  (1987)
Music at the Heart of Thinking  (1987)
Limestone Lakes Utanki  (1989)
So Far  (1981)
Alley Alley Home Free  (1992)
Snap  (1992)
Diamond Grill  (1996)
When I Was Eight  (1998)
Isadora Blue  (2005)
Articulations  (2007)
Sentenced to Light  (2008)
is a door  (2009)
The False Laws of Narrative:  The Poetry of Fred Wah, Selected with an introduction by Louis Cabri  (2009)

My new hobby is going to be finding all of these.

Fred Wah at Ottawa's VerseFest.



www.bookthug.ca