Monday, 25 April 2011
Poetry Month: Jim Nason - Narcissus Unfolding
Jim Nason’s stories and poems have appeared in literary journals and anthologies in Canada as well as the United States – including the Best Canadian Poetry 2008 and 2010 (Tightrope Books). Narcissus Unfolding (Frontenac House, 2011) is his third collection of poetry. He has also published a novel The Housekeeping Journals (Turnstone Press) and a short story collection The Girl on the Escalator (Tightrope Books, 2011). He has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Award in both the poetry and fiction categories.
TTQ - What role do you see poetry playing in a more digital world?
Jim Nason - Methods of communication are constantly changing. In a digital world poems will be accessible in a way that fits our time. Digital is fast, easy and exciting! Poetry needs to be seen and heard and has always played a role in mirroring what is going on in the world – concerns about war, celebrating love and expressing loss – the role of poetry in a more digital world will be the same, only more accessible for techi folks.
TTQ - Do you feel the e-book will ultimately take the place of the printed page?
Jim Nason - There is plenty of room for electronic information in the world. How we are entertained or how we gather information isn’t the question for me, but why people buy books is. For some, having an e-book will satisfy them. Not me. I need the page in hand, to write in the margins with pencil, to physically enter the material, feel the weight of the words … I want to be able to throw the book in my backpack or put it on a shelf with others of its kind and watch it age. When I look at Narcissus Unfolding, and the beauty of that book, I need to hold it in my hand and celebrate the hard work that went into creating it – the design and editing, Kelley Aitken’s gorgeous art … the physical package is important to the words. I need to know I can tuck a book review or an article about the author into its back flap. Like many things that I appreciate in life, I could easily look at a picture of it on line, but with books, I’m still partial to the smell and texture of pressed pulp. Narcissus Unfolding is a multi-layered love poem, an unfolding … it needs to be held …the reader should be able to feel the give in the spine, experience the sigh of turning pages.
You sink into the rose-print
sofa you bought at the Salvation Army,
wake slowly into morning. Sunrise
is fire through a crack in the curtain,
circling your feet like an improbable halo
on the pine floor, the consoling warmth.
Hung above the Medici vase, a black
and white photograph of a thoroughbred –
foaming flank of neck, strong legs weak
with rain and mud, zero percent body fat
you would say if the horse were naked
like a man – maybe the man who spends
an extra ten minutes in the steaming shower
across from you at the gym, wanting eyes
on his lonely chest, loving the world of sit-ups
and iron, hating himself for what he craves –
you see this in the way he looks at your own
fit body, how he soaps his rough thighs, bends
slowly to massage his knees, by the way he
hangs his beautiful head – hot water dripping
down around the scalded circle of his neck
like a flaming lei of pink roses.
The horse’s wet mane
and ballsy stance, framed
in slick hardwood – complex weave
of petal and thorn, you want to touch it,
smell the sexy mix of lime powder
and hay, hear the steady grind of oats
like gravel between his massive teeth,
heavy tail swatting flies from his tensed-up
rump, stomping in the stall, the water bucket
spilling, sunlight over piss-soaked straw.