The Poetry of Don Domanski
Paper 78 pp.
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With The Cape Breton Book of the Dead, Don Domanski emerged as a remarkable new voice in Canadian poetry, combining formal conciseness with broad cosmic allusions, constant surprise with brooding atmospherics, and innovative syntax with delicate phrasings. In subsequent collections, Domanski’s poetry has deepened and expanded, with longer lines and more complex structures that journey into the far reaches of metaphor. Now, with Earthly Pages: The Poetry of Don Domanski, the long-awaited first selection from his books, readers have a chance to experience the full range of his work in one volume.
Editor Brian Bartlett, in his introduction, “The Trees are Full of Rings,”, discusses Domanski’s engagement with nature and the transformative power of his metaphors; his poetic bestiary amd mythical underpinnings; and his kinship to poets like Stevens, Whitman, and Rumi. Like these poets, Domanski is drawn to borderlands between the physical and the spiritual, the unconscious and the conscious. His poetry finds a home for demons and angels, spiders and wolves—and for kitchens and back alleys, forests and stars.
In language both fluent and hypnotic, Domanski maintains an awareness of both the magnitudes and the minutiae that live beyond language. In “Flying Over Language,” an essay written specifically for this volume, the poet explains that for him metaphor is one way to suggest the wealth of being that poetry can only point toward.
Brian Bartlett’s books of poetry include Granite Erratics, The Afterlife of Trees, Travels of the Watch, and Wanting the Day: Selected Poems, which was published in both Britain and Canada and won the 2004 Atlantic Poetry Prize. He also edited Don McKay: Essays on His Works and is working on a collection of prose, Living with Poetry. He teaches at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
Don Domanski was born and raised on Cape Breton Island and now lives in Halifax. He has published eight books of poetry, two of which were short-listed for the Governor General’s Award, and in 1999 he won the Canadian Literary Award for Poetry. Published and reviewed internationally, his work has been translated into Czech, Portuguese, and Spanish.
“Disarmingly forthright, Domanski’s exploration of intuition is inviting.”
— Paul W. Harland, University of Alberta, Journal of Canadian Poetry
“The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming.”
— Paul Milton, Canadian Literature
“Bartlett’s selection of poems provides a most helpful introduciton to Domanski. Bartlett’s opening essay explores sources and affinities ... without diminishing the poet’s originality. Bartlett ... also looks at the range of his work, both the allusiveness and the reach into space (from critters of the forest floor to the stars) and time (back as far as the origins of life).... The volume concludes with a concise, powerful essay by the poet himself, an exploration of his ideas about intuition, about language (‘language itself is transient, and the usage we lean so heavily upon is nailed to thin air’).... The core of the book is poetry, thirty-six poems that illustrate Domanski’s genius, his ability to nail meaning to thin air. The poems introduce us to a universe rich and strange and full of perilous seas, and the metaphors persuade us that it is our own.... Traces of the invisible are everywhere visible in this poet’s work, and that is an earned paradox.”
— Bert Almon, Canadian Literature