Thirty-Seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences by Jan Zwicky Online

Thirty-Seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences
Title : Thirty-Seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781554470013
Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 80

For the past several years, Jan Zwicky has been developing a definition and working examples of the word “lyric.” Her writing has taken the shape of poetry and philosophy, neither necessarily confined to the traditions of those genres. Thirty-seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences is the latest in this ongoing focus, previously explored in collections like Songs for RelFor the past several years, Jan Zwicky has been developing a definition and working examples of the word “lyric.” Her writing has taken the shape of poetry and philosophy, neither necessarily confined to the traditions of those genres. Thirty-seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences is the latest in this ongoing focus, previously explored in collections like Songs for Relinquishing the Earth (1998) and in her philosophic works, including Lyric Philosophy (1992) and Wisdom & Metaphor (Gaspereau Press, 2003). The songs in this collection are odes, addresses and apostrophes, to household fixtures, human emotions, shades of light, seasons, stretches of land, departures, sounds and solitude. Working with the most associative details, Zwicky has whittled encounters with her subjects down to their integral and resounding notes. A single light shining from a house in the winter is the bathtub’s call to its tired owner. Dew on the grass is the long note of calm in a hurried departure. Every presence contains absence, every pause embodies continuation, every house has “one chink open to the wind.” These are songs to the negative space around solid shapes. Wild grape, nuthatch and August are in part defined by the time around their existence. Bath, laundry and grate have a life both for and beyond their owner, and it is upon these tensions that the poet’s fondness develops. Zwicky’s musical sensibilities give these poems their resolve. The precise lilt of her verse amounts to a resonating frequency for each of her subjects, with the O of each address sounding the driving note. In music Zwicky has captured the energy and suddenness of realizations like homecoming, departure, familiarity and alienation. Her songs walk the tightrope between thinking and being, steadying and strengthening the act of imagination that maintains contact between past, present and future. The seven studies in this collection signal a slower tempo, a downshift into the clipped stillness of memory. Summer months, garden gate, childhood house and silent afternoons are summoned to the surface for a look. These give way to six silences: three-line moments of pause or hush that request careful entrance and exit. Like still lifes or haikus, these silences suspend time within time. Basil springs motionless, grass ripens, pollen settles. As with the absences contained in her songs, Zwicky’s silences embody the tenuous balance between thought and experience. Thirty-seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences is a vital addition to a remarkable body of work. Zwicky’s lyricism proves to the senses what lies within the parameters set by her prose. The trade edition of this book is a 5 x 8-inch, smyth-sewn paperback bound in card stock with a letterpress-printed jacket. The text is printed offset on laid paper.


Thirty-Seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences Reviews

  • James Murphy

    I love the poetry of Jan Zwicky. Most of her poems are small, especially so in this volume. But they blow up in the mind to make a huge consciousness. Zwicky's poetry creates a province of sensitivity to be inhabited by quiet emotion and by a need for stillness. You want to sit meditatively for a time and let yourself sink into the image or state of mind she's conjured up. With poems of almost haiku-like compactness she paints a mental setting we may have experienced and been moved by but whose [...]

  • Sienna

    Jan Zwicky is that rarest of creatures: a poet, a philosopher, a musician. Each of these guises (the last through the musicality of language) manifests in her every work, along with nature, glorious self meeting the external, and this is no exception. Glad I finally picked it up. An example:Night SongThe sky turns its dark headand the breezes fold themselves among the leaves.Who is left?The last thrush-song has soaked into the earth.A little stream is hereunsleeping, and the small panesof the wi [...]

  • Matthew

    From the "Thirty-Seven Small Songs"The sky today: a singleperfect sound, an openthroat, the nowthat's everywhere and all there isof time -the sky, perhaps, Parmenideslooked up into and saidwhat is for beingis for thinking, too.I guess I betterwear a hat!- Small Song: Blue, pg. 16*You lift like dark itselfout of the night - an overcoat,your lining hung with night-perfumeand dew. O river of cedar-shadow,chinchilla skin of night!You spread beneath my windowand everything you touchknown nakedness.- [...]

  • Dave

    Above the fenceline, drifts of crows,wonderful precise poetry