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The November Propertius
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (96 pages)
(Pub. Aug 1998)
Autumn went and friends fell away --
Those flowers of a lovely time gone. No more warm nights.
No more moon for us
Inebriate on the lawn.
Meat was consumed, wine was spilled
On elaborate tablecloths.
But rockets and rebels and heads of state
Are quite burned out
Of their old life.
Some hour arrived.
I press roses in a book.
from `The November Propertius'
If there's an autumnal feeling to the title of Norm Sibum's new book, it is a fruitful season despite early frosts, the loves, unmellow anxieties and reflections of the voices who tell us their stories. Some of the speakers are ancient, some modern, and all of them have questions dictated by their situations in life and history. These are not dramatic monologues: they are lyrical and philosophical. The characters are for the most part stoical and pessimistic, but their pessimism is classical, remote from the easy cynicism and reductive irony of our age. Yet here, as in his earlier collections, Sibum proves one of the most modern of our poets: his classicism is without nostalgia, his satire is unresigned. Around the complex, reflective sentences his characters utter, their world materialises, they become present. The poet's task is one of effacement before his subjects: they arrive in the poem, in their chosen moments, whole.
Praise for Norm Sibum 'A world is glimpsed from the corner of his eye, a multiplicity of voices is briefly overheard. From these Sibum has made a rough, durable fabric; he is a Browning for our times while at the same time having developed a voice that is completely his own.'
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