Poets die, poetry persists…


…because we resurrect it. Well, nerds do. I will be reading Anne Wilkinson’s works at the Dead Poets Reading Series Sun, March 11 at the Vancouver Public Library at 3 PM.  Thanks to Kevin Spenst, Diane Tucker and all the organizers of the series.

“Anne Cochran Wilkinson (September 21, 1910 – May 10, 1961) was a Canadian poet. She was part of the modernist movement in Canadian poetry in the 1940s and 1950s, one of only a few prominent women poets of the time, along with Dorothy Livesay and P. K. Page.”

I had heard of Wilkinson but rediscovered her in the comprehensive, fascinating Poetry by Canadian Women anthology edited by Rosemary Sullivan (Oxford University Press, 1989). As I told a friend, it’s dangerous for me to enter a used book store. I invariably emerge only after having blown 50-100 buck on various volumes of verse. But, some days it’s required.

This is my favourite so far:

In June and Gentle Oven

In June and gentle oven
Summer kingdoms simmer
As they come
And through flower and leaf and love
Their sweetest juice.

No wind at all
On the wide green world
Where fields go stroll-
ing by
And in and out
An adder of a stream
Parts the daisies
On a small Ontario farm.

And where, in the curve of meadow,
Lovers, touching, lie,
A church of grass stands up
And walls them, holy, in.

Fabulous the insects
Stud the air
Or walk on running water,
Klee-drawn saints
And bright as angels are.

Honeysuckle here
Is more than bees can bear
And time turns pale
And stops to catch the breath
And lovers slip their flesh
And light as pollen
Play on treble water
Till bodies reappear
And a shower of sun
To dry their langour.

Then two in one the lovers lie
And peel the skin of summer
With their teeth
And suck its marrow from a kiss
So charged with grace
The tongue, all knowing
Holds the sap of June
Aloof from seasons, flowing.


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