In In My Dream. Stuart Ross. Book Thug. Toronto, Ontario. 2014.
The name Stuart Ross gets mentioned fairly regularly in Today's book of poetry. There are several reasons for that.
Stuart is one of my oldest and dearest friends and we often speak to each other a couple of times a week. He can be found in the reading chair in my office several times a year and leaves a superhero costume in the guest bedroom downstairs.
Stuart is a driving force in the Canadian small press literary scene with his own influential imprint, A Stuart Ross Book, at Mansfield Press and his own highly respected Proper Tales Press which has published a multitude of esteemed Canadian and American poets.
Ross also works tirelessly as a behind the scenes editor, runs workshops, organizes readings and continues to be a prolific poet responsible for one of the most original bodies of work in Canadian poetry.
All of that to say that Today's book of poetry is pleased to look at Stuart Ross's In In My Dream from Toronto's very busy Book Thug.
A State Of The Snowdrift Report
They come right up to the door, but they do not knock
and they do not enter. They are sloped such that, if I were
a miniature person, I would want to toboggan down them.
They are the smooth neck of Kim Novak, of Veronica Lake, of
the woman who sells me Time Out at the corner newsstand.
They are fuller and fluffier this year, but the lack of sun
means they sparkle less. You can push your face into them
and leave an imprint of your joy, your anger, your fear. Plus,
they accumulate flies surprised by the sudden onslaught of
the season, twigs and whirlybirds that have sailed down from
nearly naked branches. I peer out my window and see them
in the fields across the street, like waves. They gather around
bushes and trees, lining up for autographs.
One of the things to admire about the poetry of Stuart Ross is his absolutely irrepressible sense of humour. Ross is a "say less" type of poet, these poems never overstate anything.
They are discrete and generally well-mannered -- and they are always heavily mined.
Ross has more imagination in three or four lines than many poets can squeeze out in a book.
I'd like to tell you that I understand every word, get every reference, that I always suss out where Ross is headed.
I don't, and neither does anyone else on the planet. How could they? So what is the attraction?
Illumination. Reading a Stuart Ross poem one experiences lights going on deep inside your brain, often where there has been no light before. Reading Stuart Ross poems is a little like eating cotton candy where the ideas go straight to the sweet spot in your head. They jump off of the page like sparklers.
First Men in the Moon.
Tears for Fears.
The Trouble with Harry.
Leisure Suit Larry.
Don't Be Cruel.
The Barber of Seville.
The Harder They Fall.
Today's book of poetry is ALWAYS going to love a poem that champion's Nelson Ball. Yet another national treasure on far too few lips and minds.
Ross juggles a mythical number of balls in the air in many of his poems, clearly invoking the extra arms of poetry Gods only he knows about. He can also be surprisingly intimate and candid - but he is always fearless.
In In My Dream
In my dream,
I see my brothers turn a corner
across the road.
One is a dead brother.
I wake up sobbing
and tell you about it.
Then I wake up shaken
and tell you my dream
about waking up sobbing
that Owen and Barry
had turned a corner.
Today's book of poetry thinks Stuart Ross walks on water using all twelve of his toes.
Add this to the list of books the interns here at Today's book of poetry have to read. Otherwise it is the plank into shark infested waters.
That is all.
Photo: John W. Macdonald
ABOUT THE AUTHORStuart Ross published his first literary pamphlet on the photocopier in his dad’s office one night in 1979. He is the author of eight poetry books, most recently Our Days in Vaudeville(Mansfield Press), collaborations with 29 other poets from across Canada, as well as a couple dozen chapbooks, plus a bunch of fiction and essays. Stuart lives in Cobourg, Ontario, and blogs at bloggamooga.blogspot.ca.
reads Three Cobourg Poems
at the Cobourg Poetry & Literary Arts Festival
November 2-4, 2012
Video: Wally Keeler
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.