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April 25 , 2010

The Burning Alphabet


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.
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