Salvage

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Paperback
$16.95 US
On sale Mar 26, 2002 | 112 Pages | 978-0-7710-2471-9
Salvage is a beautifully crafted new book of poems. It opens with a signpost alerting the reader to “Poems about Loss/ Next 100 Pages,” poems about loved ones, relationships, innocence, faith – all gone. But paradoxically people and events in Michael Crummey’s embrace are too vivid to fade away. Summer and winter visits to a Finnish cemetery in Northern Ontario, the aftermath of a mysterious act of arson in Kingston, Ontario, a run around fogged-in Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s, Newfoundland – these experiences and others are rendered indelible in spare, luminous poems infused with conscience and heightened attention. Michael Crummey will break your heart and mend it too.
HOW HE CARRIED IT

It hovered in the boy’s head pale
as a daylight moon

It lit him up like a field
under a hail of lightning,
it torched the buildings locked
and almost hidden under brush
in the unfenced backyard of his mind

It travelled in his blood like blooms
of silt stirred from a river bottom,
it ticked like a clock toward
some alarm his body
lay awake for,
it made him feel ancient and
unrecoverable and lonely
for his friends

It churned inside him
like the crankshaft of the planet,
darkness endlessly turning
toward a deeper darkness
he had no name for

It settled on him like squatters
claiming farmland lying fallow,
like summer dusk staining
the distant hills blue

A Word about the Poem by Michael Crummey
This one drives my mother crazy. What is the “it” that he carries, she wants to know, but I’m not telling. The “it” is a very particular thing to me, but I was interested in writing a poem that circled and circled the specific without nailing a name to it, which would allow a reader to make their own guess at what lies at the centre. I wanted the poem to have an incantatory feel, letting a progression of images build one upon the other with the hope that by the end something adhered. And I’m honestly not sure if anything does.
© Arielle Hogan
MICHAEL CRUMMEY is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Little Dogs: New and Selected Poems and Passengers, and the short fiction collection Flesh and Blood. His first novel, River Thieves, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and his second novel, The Wreckage, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His third novel, Galore, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. His fourth novel, Sweetland, was also a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. His most recent novel, The Innocents, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award. Michael Crummey lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. View titles by Michael Crummey

About

Salvage is a beautifully crafted new book of poems. It opens with a signpost alerting the reader to “Poems about Loss/ Next 100 Pages,” poems about loved ones, relationships, innocence, faith – all gone. But paradoxically people and events in Michael Crummey’s embrace are too vivid to fade away. Summer and winter visits to a Finnish cemetery in Northern Ontario, the aftermath of a mysterious act of arson in Kingston, Ontario, a run around fogged-in Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s, Newfoundland – these experiences and others are rendered indelible in spare, luminous poems infused with conscience and heightened attention. Michael Crummey will break your heart and mend it too.

Excerpt

HOW HE CARRIED IT

It hovered in the boy’s head pale
as a daylight moon

It lit him up like a field
under a hail of lightning,
it torched the buildings locked
and almost hidden under brush
in the unfenced backyard of his mind

It travelled in his blood like blooms
of silt stirred from a river bottom,
it ticked like a clock toward
some alarm his body
lay awake for,
it made him feel ancient and
unrecoverable and lonely
for his friends

It churned inside him
like the crankshaft of the planet,
darkness endlessly turning
toward a deeper darkness
he had no name for

It settled on him like squatters
claiming farmland lying fallow,
like summer dusk staining
the distant hills blue

A Word about the Poem by Michael Crummey
This one drives my mother crazy. What is the “it” that he carries, she wants to know, but I’m not telling. The “it” is a very particular thing to me, but I was interested in writing a poem that circled and circled the specific without nailing a name to it, which would allow a reader to make their own guess at what lies at the centre. I wanted the poem to have an incantatory feel, letting a progression of images build one upon the other with the hope that by the end something adhered. And I’m honestly not sure if anything does.

Author

© Arielle Hogan
MICHAEL CRUMMEY is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Little Dogs: New and Selected Poems and Passengers, and the short fiction collection Flesh and Blood. His first novel, River Thieves, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and his second novel, The Wreckage, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His third novel, Galore, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. His fourth novel, Sweetland, was also a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. His most recent novel, The Innocents, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award. Michael Crummey lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. View titles by Michael Crummey

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