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list price: $11.99
edition:eBook
also available: eBook
category: Poetry
published: Apr 2005
ISBN:9781894078979
publisher: Brick Books

The Burning Alphabet

by Barry Dempster

tagged: canadian
Description

The Burning Alphabet confirms and extends Barry Dempster’s reputation as one of Canada’s most respected poets. Underpinning these poems, as in his previous work, there lies an unswerving dedication to emotional and spiritual honesty, clear-eyed recognitions rendered without pomp. In one section, "Sick Days", he focuses on that "other place" of chronic illness. Other poems present arguments against suicide, and explore the tropical wonders of a woman’s closet. The closing section renders, with great candour and poignancy, the powerful love-hate relationship with an aging father. Dempster writes as though it were simply natural to have speech and song cohabit with such grace. In the thick of night, when we're dreaming of corridors and Dali clocks, the soft brown bodies of bucks and does are basking in our moonlight, nibbling on the last of our lettuce leaves, scratching impressions in our sand. They are the children we wish we'd had, fleeting images of ourselves before inner lives grew blotchy, eyes heavy with 10 p.m. cop shows and those blessedly nonsensical dreams. …From "Deer""In The Burning Alphabet, mood, with all its elaborate subtleties and manifestations, both in sickness and in health, constitutes a metaphysics. I feel as though I've lived an entire inner life in these pages, wrenching, dark, and amazingly sweet." – Roo Borson. Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry 2005; Winner of the CAA Jack Chalmers Poetry Award.

About the Author

Barry Dempster was born in Scarborough, Ontario, and was educated in child psychology. He has worked at both the Children's Aid and the Queen Street Mental Health Centre in Toronto. For six years, he was poetry and reviews editor for the Poetry Canada Review. Currently, he works as an editor for Brick Books. He and his wife, Karen, live in Holland Landing, Ontario, where he runs a film series and two book groups. He has published eight collections of poetry, three works of fiction and one children's book.

Awards
  • Winner, CAA Jack Chalmers Poetry Award (Canadian Authors Association)
  • Short-listed, Governor General's Award for Poetry
Editorial Reviews

Few if any poets encompass the range, the dynamism, and the spectrum of emotional colours Barry Dempster does. The Burning Alphabet bravely tackles such potentially demoralizing matters as chronic illness, the chasm between father and son, suburbia, and the gross derangements of our society with a combination of tender rambunctiousness, broad deep humour, and a fervent zest for the possibilities of language and for re-imagining life’s bewilderments that’s unparalleled.

Barry Dempster creates word music that is both delightfully insightful and memorable.

— Winner of the 2006 CAA Jack Chalmers Poetry Award – Judges’ Comments

Barry Dempster’s The Burning Alphabet is a skillful navigation and sometimes irreverent meditation on illness, loss and the transitory. It hums with honesty and unexpected delight.

— Nominated for the 2005 Governor General’s Award for Poetry – Jury Citation (2005)

In The Burning Alphabet, mood, with all its elaborate subtleties and manifestations, both in sickness and in health, constitutes a metaphysics. I feel as though I’ve lived an entire inner life in these pages, wrenching, dark, and amazingly sweet.

— Roo Borson

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