Friday, June 05, 2009

Reader's Diary #496- Don McKay: Field Marks

Last month, Barbara Carey, writing for, came up with her top 10 English language poets. Of the few on the list I've read, she won't get any arguments here (Mary Dalton, Skydancer Louise Bernice Halfe, Ken Babstock). Now we can agree on Don McKay as well.

Featuring 35 of his poems selected and introduced by Méira Cook, I'm hardpressed at this point to decide what I liked more: the unexpected metaphors, the wit, the natural language, the nature imagery, the humility? I'd say all of the above, but even his poetry is more than a sum of it's parts. It's hard not to look at his poetry the way he looks at the world and you'll have to read it to know what I mean but I think it has something to do with faith, and not necessarily in a religious way.

Some Functions of a Leaf
by Don McKay

To whisper. To applaud the wind
and hide the Hermit thrush.
To catch the light
and work the humble spell of photosynthesis
(excuse me, sir, if I might have one word)
by which it's changed to wood.

(Read the rest here.)

And here's my attempt to capture my feelings toward his poetry:

A Body Is A Poem Is A Body
by John Mutford

Don McKay has the ability
to find the mundane in Nature
and make us believe
what we have always believed:
that there is more
to a snail than slime and shell
to a tree than leaves, trunk, and roots

(And if He can do that
just imagine what
he can do with a body.)


jama said...

Love this post! Thanks for the intro to Don McKay. Enjoyed the poem you shared as well as your own :).

Sara said...

A poem about another poet. You don't see too many of those, but it seems the perfect way to introduce a poet you admire to the rest of world. So I'm with Jama--thanks for the introduction to McKay. I'm going to think of leaves as "applauding the wind" now.

Melwyk said...

I like Don McKay's work as well, but must say I am really impressed by your own tribute. Quite apropos!