What We Miss

1 June 2011

What We Miss
by Glen Sorestad
Published by Thistledown Press
Review by Andréa Ledding
$17.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-75-1

Glen Sorestad, first Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan, infuses his twentieth book of poetry with a strong sense of place combined with gentle wonder. Readers are guided through a landscape both urban and rural, populated with memory, observation, humanity, and the inanimate – personable postcards from the everyday, to be savoured page by page.

The book is like a walk with a longstanding companion, sharing thoughtful interior and exterior observations. Many poems contain first-person narrative, creating a tone of intimacy – poem as memoir, poet as friend and mentor , poetry as a fleeting encounter on a remote trail.

Divided into three sections, each grouping begins with a quote from another author or public persona, and a journey through season, nature, weather, and a cast of companions – from a robin with “gaudy orange breast/spinning a small sun at us” to “umbrella sky a boundless blue” above, to an old man and his dog encountered daily in a shared walking path ritual. Of particular delight is the third and final section which powerfully mines poetic memory – decades-past childhood in rural Saskatchewan brought effectively to life equally for those who recall it, or those who never knew it.

Sorestad peoples his pages with the cast of the everyday, bringing forth a moment or occurrence to be held and considered like a carefully captured photo or objet d’art, to be passed around and examined with those who have also retained, or regained, a childhood sense of wonder. A decapitated field mouse on a path is a five-stanza mystery novel – “as if we had intruded/upon a crime lacking only/miniature police cordons.” In simplicity he evokes the inexpressible, a sense of mystery and invitation to ponder that lingers after reading: “This headless mouse/a reminder. Something.”

The month of November is described as a series of apt imagery and perfect metaphor, ending with “the black and white silence/of magpie against a frozen sky.” While there is a gentle power and eloquence throughout, others contain a jovial humour – migrating geese with juveniles in dissonant clamor remind Sorestad of family car-trips, the youngsters asking “Are we there yet? When do we get to eat? How much further?” Social commentary is here, too: Cree trickster Weesakechuk appears and performs to applause, but is warned to disappear if he sees any police cruisers.

Other poems share the aches and pains of aging, marking universal waystops in the relentless passage of time – the burial of childhood friends, a teen’s first car, or complaining joints once “silent and precise/as doors on a Mercedes-Benz.” Some poems are dedicated to friends, acquaintances, and fellow-poets, but still accessible to all readers.

In fact, accessibility defines Sorestad’s poems: they are real, tangible, and as solidly satisfying as the moments, landscapes, animals, people, encounters, or objects they capture and evoke.

This is a collection for all tastes and ages, from an internationally recognized poet who has stayed firmly rooted and voiced in his prairie home.


No Comments

Comments are closed.