Saturday, June 16, 2012

Review of Hummingbird in The Chronicle Herald


"John Wall Barger’s energetic book of poetry is like this in-your-face bird, demanding, hungry, courageous and insistent. I like the Portuguese word for hummingbird he teaches us, beija-flor, or flower kisser, but not so much the horrific Aztec name : Huitzilopochtli, the bloodthirsty god of war “requiring nourishment of constant human sacrifice so the sun will shine again.”Especially not on a foggy day in Nova Scotia. Although Barger currently teaches English at Saint Mary’s University, these poems were crafted during past journeys through Mexico, India, Taiwan and Italy. They evoke the “spirit of the hummingbird’s desire to survive, with the roving spirit of the poet.” While some poets revel in such roving, others illustrate a calm, soulful, stay at home reflection. If you prefer the latter, you may find all this flitting from flower to flower a bit exhausting. I enjoyed it but had to rest often to catch my breath. When this travelling bard stays long enough to kiss one flower thoroughly, the results are exceptional. Many of his poems are striking, original, arresting — and often surprise us with unexpected imagery... gritty, innovative work written with great impact, skill and mastery."