The Essential Tom Marshall

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The Porcupine's Quill, 2012 - Poetry - 63 pages
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Number nine in our series of Essential Poets, this newly selected, essential collection of Tom Marshall's poetry, co-edited by his friends David Helwig and Michael Ondaatje, pushes Marshall to his rightful place in the Canadian canon. Tom Marshall lived in Kingston for most of his adult life. During his short lifetime he made a substantial contribution to Canadian literature and culture, with ten published collections of poetry, four of critical essays and seven of fiction.

In this selected volume the reader will find verse from his early years, daring and inventive, imbuing the familiar Kingston landscape with an electric intensity. One of his earliest poems, `Astrology', suggests Marshall's range of tones, the balance of humour and seriousness, and the way his poems remain lyrical even when he is writing of bitter love, self-abasement and brilliant restless nights. Also included is more reflective poetry from later in his life, probing and elegant, as he struggled with an ambiguous relationship to his parents. But through them all one hears Marshall's distinctive voice, his shrewd irony, his daring intensity, his preoccupation with mortality and the enduring power of myth.

 

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Contents

Foreword The Silences ofFire 1969
7
The park is more like a wood
11
Autobiographies
14
Astrology
15
Speedboat
16
Derangement
18
Notes from a London Diary
19
Words in Exile
21
The Return
30
Qualifications
31
Other Qualifications
32
Legend
33
Second Legend
34
The Friends
35
The Lamb
36
Approaching
39

Interior Monologue 666
24
Macdonald Park
25
Politics
26
from Islands
28
Strictly Personal
29
Christmas Travel Poems
40
from Summer of 77
41
Field Syllabics
42
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

`Words For H.S.K.M. (1910-91)'

The Kennedy profile recumbent
is like a craggy mountain range
rising above the oak casket.

Time's scythe has had its way with her.
The Ancient of Days has drawn a line
around her. She survives herself no more.

For years she had been receding
little by little. She had been
remembered in dreams as younger, stronger.

A shrunken woman, kindly, distant,
not that terrifying sorceress
not yet the strong, protective matrona.

Mother, in your darkness and light
I grew. Your love of music and reading.
Your hatred of space and freedom.

Curious contradictions of
anxiety, nerves, depression
persisting through generations

of Kennedys working the land.
Whence comes all that depth of darkness?
From Scotland's internecine turmoil?

Human mysteries persist, deepen.
There is no resolution. Only pain
familiar and defining, strengthening.

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