Learning to Count
In brutal contrast, the author, taking his own child to a school in France, encounters horrifying evidence of the murder of hundreds of children by French Nazi collaborators. But throughout, Smith measures the impact of his encounters with distinctly Canadian insight and awareness. And so finally the journey returns home, to Canada, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Pablo Picasso magically leads a naked chorus line through the streets of the city. The journey has been exhilarating, exhausting, at times almost unbearable – but always, always magical.
Learning to Count, Douglas Burnet Smith, Poetry, ISBN 978-1-897181-37-9, 88 pages, Paperback, 6″ x 9″, $15.95
Smith adeptly juxtaposes tough, laconic vernacular, vigorous imagery, and startling metaphor. A poet whose resources are dynamic and unforgettable. ~ Event
Always, in our best poetry, the hovering care for place. Douglas Burnet Smith hears landscape; he hears the way it resounds in the people who travel its subtle and complex surface. Landscape for Smith is a kind of musical instrument. ~ Robert Kroetsch
Given Kroetsch’s assertion that Burnet Smith “hears landscape,” the poems in Learning to Count are best understood as site-specific recordings. Burnet Smith’s poems function as subtle accretions, as lilting songs that are not complete until the last line has been sung. But the effect of his poems — and their range, capturing the instant and the epic equally well — is magnificent. —Ariel Gordon, Winnipeg Free Press
These poems are not about travel; they are about the shocks — and pleasures — of recognitions of international, cultural similarities. The manner recalls shifts and juxtapositions of Pound’s epic The Cantos, but the content is more playful….Smith’s lyrics are very fine, and there’s even a touch of the epigrammatic here and there…. Count on these poems. —George Elliott Clarke, Chronicle Herald
This book shows that the experience of crossing borders… is integral to anyone alive to—and in—the world. —Calgary Herald
…a wise and ably structured collection of personal memoirs bolstered by a scaffolding of history, philosophy and art….The Dektet has done well to find this poet a home, and he has rewarded them with a work that adores the world, but understands that poetry is an intimate thing, and that a marriage of the two needs a thoughtful, patient hand. — Globe and Mail (one of three poetry books on the Globe 100 for 2010)
Travel writing used to be a nostalgic adventure-story or anthropological ghetto of non-fiction. This book shows that the experience of crossing borders and negotiating cultures is integral to anyone alive to – and in – the world. The poems are a layered patina, evoking not only the sensual present of France, Rome, Corsica and Halifax, but also their complex pasts, interpreted over and over through art. —Jury, Dektet 2010
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