South of North: Images of Canada
Richard Outram has long been accused (there are those who will protest, wrongly accused) of being a `difficult' poet. An ascetic traditionalist perhaps, as opposed to a populist the likes of cigar-smoking Al Purdy or whiskey-ravaged Milton Acorn. Some, notably the formidable critic Peter Sanger, prefer the term `challenging' in describing Outram's poetry. Alberto Manguel has written that Richard Outram is `one of the finest poets in the English language'. But then there are those fervent, vocal dissidents who will insist that not only is the thicker of Outram's poetry `impenetrable', but also that Sanger's criticism is equally incomprehensible, if not more so. South of North presents a very different side of the polarizing Richard Outram. Consider ...
`Outram's ``perfect burden'' is the necessity of human ignorance and confusion, the burden of the ``sad man'' in ``Autumn'' which, like the riddle-work of material lattice both intercepting and allowing the passage of light in The Promise of Light, is the only possible preliminary to an accurate and profound experience of love.' -- Peter Sanger, `Her kindled shadow,' An Introduction to the Work of Richard Outram
In South of North, by way of stark contrast, Outram's azure mariner compares the `waves of Whiffinspit' with the `waves of Pond Inlet' and finds the waters to be remarkably similar. As might be expected; nothing more complicated than that. South of North depicts a landscape that is distinctly rural -- a weathervane, dogwood in a marsh, and raucous crows; the whitened skeleton of a vole in a fallow field. Tantramar Marsh, the Saugeen River and the horses of Bonavista. A summer storm building over Cobourg; the hefty bulk of a snapping turtle surfacing, trailing a rank ooze.
What people are saying - Write a review