Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Review of Origins

Whetter’s work like a force of nature

WITH a crafted tidal force washing away unnecessary words, Darryl Whetter’s poems stand firm against the driving wind of loose language and (like) unedited drivel that has (like) infected so much of our culture.

If you love the Bay of Fundy, history, science and are fascinated by fossils, this book of poetry will enthrall. Origins is an unusual amalgam of evolution, geological history, cultural change and “the intersection of forces which both create and destroy.” If I may coin a new word, it is ethnoecogeo-science poetry of the highest calibre and may be, like the fossils described, the first of its kind to drag itself out of the tidal water and waddle on this new poetic beach. This, in itself, makes it interesting.

[...] My favourite poems from this section are from Joggins: “Jawbones, skeletons, entire ecosystems / exhumed by the ceaseless strike / and slip of nudged rock.”

From the poems on Darwin: “Your father’s bank account / the wind in your Beagle sails. “ (just to show poets can have a sense of humour) and from Marry, Not Marry the famous Darwinian ledger of the young bachelor scientist trying to decide: “MARRY — better than a dog / anyhow / charms of music / and female / chitchat. NOT MARRY — less money / for books etc / these things good for one’s / health but terrible / loss of time.”

[...] Although I respected and enjoyed the poems of the first Part, I simply loved most of the Counterpart because of this fresh perspective. For example, Burn the House Warm: “Each country house around Joggins / has its annual surrogate of firewood / not just heat but light / radiates from the cooked door / that window into orange / until the very air / erupts / flame chasing smoke / chasing flame for / this sleeping / winter house.” This sense of immediacy makes a stronger impact than history for most readers. Yet the combination of past and present is very powerful.

Origins seems to be part of a new integration of science and poetry that can only enrich our language and culture. For many decades the arts and sciences have been taught in separate university buildings, to the detriment of both. Perhaps this new poetry will shift the tectonic plates of culture. Darryl Whetter has nudged the rock. There will be tremors.

Read the entire review from The Chronicle Herald at