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Smoke and Lilacs
Categories: 21st Century, Canadian
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (132 pages)
(Pub. Feb 2009)
Memory is theatric - softshoe and mime -
To the mind and its shadow-play. A crouching figure would hear
The rustling of a leaf. But is it not a pleasant scene,
The storm moved on? The unassuming brick,
The sailing trees, the smoke, the rain, the lilacs
Of our passing? That the beginning will come around again.
from 'Smoke and Lilacs'
Smoke and Lilacs is full of play and shadow, whispered intimations of mortality and glances of humour, elegiac lyric playing against steely classicism, an easy modern vernacular eliding with timeless grace. Sibum's meditative narratives move between worlds, modern and ancient, the state of our civic order and the realm of love. Human love and lust exist within the forces of empire - Rome or America. Men and women continue to ask of life 'from what god does it come, / To what serendipity does it go / if chance is all and all there’s been?', and the gods 'laugh at those who laugh at chance'. Across centuries, voices create a complex music from their moments on earth, the echoes of their 'gossip in the rain's cold light'.
Cover painting: Alchemy (detail) by Mary Harman, reproduced by kind permission of the artist. Cover design by StephenRaw.com.
'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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