Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Reader's Diary #221- Christopher Dewdney: Demon Pond (FINISHED)

Christopher Dewdney, husband of novelist Barbara Gowdy, is sometimes said to be an avant garde poet. Maybe someone more familiar with his work might be able to explain this to me. I certainly didn't get that impression from Demon Pond. This book was creative sure, but shouldn't all poets be creative?

Despite the fact that the majority of Canadians live in urban centres, most of us have had memorable encounters with nature. Perhaps a vast tundra has made you feel small and insignificant, perhaps a surprise whale surfacing has made you feel intuned with the universe, perhaps an intimate moment in the rain has made you feel alive. Who knows. Dewdney, that's who.

Somehow he manages to avoid overly sentimental, transcendental pulp and instead shows an appreciation for the wonder and magic that is nature. It's a fine line for anyone, yet he pulls it off. He beautifully captures those moments when we feel tiny, he ponders the stars and our place in the universe, and he implies that nature is magical. All with surprisingly uplifting poems.

I'm also struck by the humility in his work. Too often I find poets trying too hard to be omniscient sages. Yet despite the clear indication that Dewdney has a good grasp on science and nature, he doesn't provide any answers. Instead, he consistently uses words like "complexity", "inconceivable", and "miracle" that reflect the awe and curiousity that nature should inspire in all of us.

2 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I like the fact that he has a good grasp on science. I think that an understanding of the workings of nature only add to the marvel.

John Mutford said...

Agreed. I don't see why Science and Art can't be lovers again. I've heard afterall, that Science and Religion are on the outs again.