Anthony Labriola’s work has appeared in The Canadian Forum, PRISM international, Lo Straniero, Vallum: New International Poetics, Stone Voices, Still Point and Passion: Poetry. He studied at the University of Toronto and holds a B.A. in English and French, a B.Ed. in English and Dramatic Arts from the Faculty of Education, and an M.A. from the Graduate Centre for the Study of Drama. He taught English, Drama and Performing Arts for 33 years. His collection,The Rigged Universe, published by Shanti Arts LLC, appeared in December, 2013, and Sun Dogs, published by Battered Suitcase Press, an imprint of Vagabondage Press, appeared in May, 2014. A novella, Devouring the Artist, is available now from Anaphora Literary Press. Two collections of stories, The Pros & Cons of Dragon-Slaying, and Poor Love & Other Stories, are also available from the same press. Two other poetry collections, Invisible Mending, and The Blessing of the Bikes & Other Life-Cyles, are available now, published by Anaphora Literary Press in 2015. The Japanese Waltzing Mouse & Other Tales, a collection of twelve stories, was published by Cranberry Tree Press. Anaphora Literary Press has published the following prose works: The Lonely Barber (June 2017), An Englishman in Italian, and The Dandelion Clock (both released in September 2017). Shanti Arts will publish Birds & Arrows, a new poetry collection, by the end of 2017. Anthony Labriola now lives in Toronto and teaches at Seneca College.
Thanks to the good graces of Christine Cote at Shanti Arts, The Rigged Universe is out now!
In Narratology, Mieke Bal contends that “I and he are both I.” So, beware of the first person in The Rigged Universe. It is kith and kin of the Jabberwocky Monster–trickster, shape-shifter, illusionist, magician, and even a poor player. The sonnets as dramatic monologues play with perception and magical thinking. They play with rough magic and enchantment until the real world comes into sharp focus. Yet some of the personae impersonate the poet and relate personal experiences in the rigging of the universe. From self-delusion to clarity, from appearance to reality, the poems attempt to express gratitude for the pain and pleasure of living in the world. “All poetry is myth-making: it strives to recreate the myths about the world,” wrote Bruno Schulz. (p. 18 in The Street of Crocodiles and other Stories, translated by Celina Wieniewska) For the Italian poet, Eugenio Montale, the making of poetry is, in the final analysis, the crafting of forms. In the lyric tradition of Dante, Petrarch and others, The Rigged Universe employs the sonnet form in modern variations. With eloquence or counter-eloquence, in diminished light or iridescence, it is poetry that is rigged.
But watch out for the magician’s tricks and manipulations. The magician is not a mystic. Poetry is not magic, as W.H. Auden says. And Thomas Merton agrees. Still, magic examines perception and belief in these poems. Allusions to other poets abound: Dante, Shakespeare, Donne, Blake, Hopkins, Thomas, Eliot, Montale, Schultz, Labriola (my son) and O’Neill. Artists, too, appear–Van Gogh and Rothko. The making of Art lets the light in as Theresa Young’s luminous works show. As in the poem, “Breathing Light,” the artist becomes what he sees and then depicts what he becomes. For the purposes of the collection, Art rigs the universe! But so do faith, science, music, silence! The rigging is made of astonishment and wonder!
The Rigged Universe
A rigged universe with a chance to pull
the strings: a demonstration of how it
all works, how it’s all a magic trick,
how deceivers undeceive and magicians
hold up disbelief. Everything is up my sleeve
in real-time links between hand and eye.
The universe doesn’t stand a chance when magic
takes over—Hocus pocus and a book of spells
with tricky thrills, Shamanic voices, eyes
in the palms of each hand, the wisdom of wizards
and witches, Druidic signs of water
and spirit. I want the real voodoo and what’s
behind the curtain, a life-changing offer
in the rigged dark of this night’s magic show.
Anaphora Literary Press has just accepted my novella, Devouring the Artist, for publication!
Devouring the Artist ($15, ISBN: 978-1-937536-63-3, 6X9″, 80pp, March, 2014): Set in the late sixties and early seventies in Montreal and Paris, the novella deals with Sebastien Elia, a young but accomplished artist, and his anarchic relationship with Lee Archer, a Canadian-born student-artist. Sebastien introduces him to the violence of life, sex and art. His rapacious hunger to devour experience draws Lee and a small group of intimates into a world of free love, social, artistic and sexual experimentation and rebellion. The sexual revolution is in full swing, but so is political unrest. Lee still longs to connect with his childhood sweetheart, Louisa Sable. Yet he begins a love affair with another art student, Anne Asher. Sebastien’s betrayal of a student cell of the FLQ in Quebec makes him a marked man and the target for political revenge. On the run, he returns to Paris, pursued by agents on a dark mission to assassinate him. When one of Sebastien’s “temporary muses” is murdered, Lee and Anne set out for Paris and are drawn into Sebastien’s sexually charged dark world of hunger, love and revolt.
Crowds of Montréalers flew past, attempting to absorb them. But though Lee resisted, Sebastien showed him how to swagger along the streets and boulevards. He showed him the city through hungry, rebellious eyes. He knew how to move with the city’s beautiful people. He took it upon himself to prepare Lee for the violence of art, as he declared it.
The novella attempts to capture young artists in their rapacious hunger for making art and the ravening obsession the characters endure for each other in becoming artists. Devouring the Artist is set in the late sixties and early seventies in two cities: Montreal and Paris. At that time, we walked on the moon and tried to get back to the Garden at Woodstock. It was the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius, free love and flower power, but the Beatles would split up. The dream would soon be over. Deeply in love, John Lennon and Yoko Ono would hold a bed-in in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal and declare that “War is Over, If You Want It.” Earlier, Soviet tanks had moved into Prague. Vietnam had became a horror show. Students, hungry for involvement in the world, began revolutions, quiet or otherwise. Riots broke out everywhere. In Quebec, the FLQ was fighting to terrorize the Canadian government and establish an independent state.
Against this backdrop, a student-artist, Sebastien Elia, leaves Paris to study in Montreal where he meets and desperately falls in love with a Canadian student, Lee Archer. At first sight, the older and more experienced rebel-artist swoops down on him, like a hawk harrying his prey. Filled with artistic and anarchic energy, he attempts to seduce Lee and drag him into the violence of life. Lee is a reluctant participant in Sebastien’s sex and art parties. He is still obsessed with, and constantly dreaming about, his lost love, Louisa Sable, and trying to figure out if he has the stomach for a life in contemporary art.
Orchestrated by Sebastien, Lee meets a girl named Anne Asher. Her sensuality and generosity free him from isolation and self-pity. But Sebastien insists on educating Lee in the ways of experimental art, and what he calls the art of the flesh, especially European. He introduces him to two sexually liberated university students—Laetitia Asher, Anne’s sister, and Monique Bergeron, a young Quebecois revolutionary. Both are activists and get involved in the politics of the day.
Sebastien’s hunger for violence, sex and art draw all the characters into a vortex of love, obsession, destruction and creation. When Sebastien gets into trouble with the authorities and betrays the student cell of the FLQ, he becomes a target for revenge. On the run, he returns to Paris, but is pursued by agents on a dark mission to execute him. When Laetitia is killed in Paris, her sister Anne convinces Lee to travel with her to get answers about her death. Lee agrees to accompany her, but wants to find out what happened to Sebastien. Following the Paris episodes, the love story takes us back to Montreal for the climax: Sebastien’s renunciation of art and Lee’s ultimate commitment to it with the force of hunger and desire.
Anaphora Literary Press has just accepted a collection of stories–
The Pros & Cons of Dragon-Slaying.
The collection of stories shows us what happens when we strive to live life to the fullest and at all costs. In the fabled adventures of this world and the next, there are many quests to go on with many battles to be fought and won. The Pros & Cons of Dragon-Slaying features characters that clash with the bewildering aspects of existence and try to prevail against the forces arrayed against them or beseiging them from within. In all their multiple voicings, from the comic to the surreal, these crusade stories reveal life’s stunning surprises and twisted ironies. They speak for life against death, for love against apathy, and for the human spirit against all forms of oppression. But as you weigh the pros and cons of dragon-slaying, watch out for the tempters and demons of inwardness. Beware the dragons of the mind.
In this collection, the unknown zones and places in life speak of dragons. These so-called dragons are emblematic of darkness, perplexity, illusion, fantasy, horror, conflict and death, to mention some of the dragons of existence sought out by dragon-seekers who must contend with fears and doubts in the real world.
The Art of Addiction is set in Toronto, Bobcaygeon and on the road to the east coast where Guiliana strives to give up her addiction to prescription drugs by accepting a new addiction: life and art.
Wilderness Interior takes place in Montreal and environs, 1969, and then the Canadian wilderness where an architect , Gabriel Wilding, plans to build a wilderness cathedral for the celebration of wildlife, despite the pleas of a woman obssessed with him to come home before it is too late.
The Art of Thirst takes place in a mountain village in the Southern Appennines and then Toronto just after the war: a young priest hears his father’s confession and the dark secret he has carried with him for almost a lifetime.
The Japanese Waltzing Mouse: is set in Toronto on a night when the narrator (a writer) plans to tell his wife of his adultery and finds a new theme for his writing: ‘How nature slowly but surly takes over the interior.’
The Tower takes place in an indeterminate location—a tower—which is the scene of a battle between two secret service agents who are also man and wife that demand total sacrifice and total surrender from one another.
The Art of Losing You takes place in Vancouver, where after a failed suicide attempt, Adriana’s sister, Claire, tries to get her sister to live at all costs, despite the acrimonious separation between Adriana and her husband, lost to her when he begins a new love affair.
Naming the Storm unfolds in the northern wilderness–the setting of an encounter between a young woman who desperately wants to get away from home and a stranger (her mother) who haunts her daughter’s life, as if stepping out of a dream.
Victor, The Victim is set outside Saigon towards the end of the Vietnam War, where a Canadian photo-journalist is wounded, captured and interrogated about his part in the fall of Saigon; and everyone’s responsibility in the time of war.
Not Far From the Kingdom takes place near the shipyards in Gdansk during the time of the Solidarity movement, where a shop owner gets involved with a pro-solidarity leader and his one-time lover.
Fall of a Sparrow: takes place north east of Toronto, and deals with the near fatal fall of a young man studying birds and the death of a little boy that reveal the secret relationship between two young men.
- Mirror, Rope, Ladder is set in a small factory town in Southern Ontario, and tells the story of an innocent young man, striving to practise a silent art in a world that often seems to ignore him.
- No Hard Feelings is a chronicle of the early life and times of a wonderful young man, who, despite the pain he experiences in growing up, feels nothing but love and compassion for others, including those that hurt him.
- The Storyteller takes place in a small town, and tells the story of an incurable romantic, determined to win the love of his life, despite her reluctance to return his love.
- The Nassau Street Theatre looks at a young man, who wants to realize his dream of building a theatre in his backyard, but must play in the strange theatre of life–where illusion and reality often play tricks on his perceptions.
- The Poetry-Eaters takes place in Oshawa, and tells the story of a husband and wife, who battle poverty, and each other, as they strive to capture their lives in poetic form.
- Renunciation tells the tale of an out-of-work actor who struggles to come to terms with rejection.
- I Hate Mondays, set in a high school, tells the story of an old teacher–dealing with intimations of his own mortality–while trying to tune into the life-force all around him.
- Seance is set in a small town, and tells the story of a middle-aged man trying to come to terms with the death of his father–and the real horror in life: losing a loved one.
Subtracting the World deals with Leonardo Furioso, an old teacher, who reminisces about his life while attempting to erase the past in the throes of death.
The Session Player is set inToronto’s east end, where a musician returns to his hotel room late one night after a recording session and is invited to “stand-in” for a drunken writer on his honeymoon with a much younger woman.
Talking of Michelangelo: the scene of a meeting of the Michelangelo Club, a group of women that meet to discuss Renaissance Art, to the exclusion of men, except for the piano player who has been hired for more that music.
Marriage Quartet is set outside Moscow in the time of the Soviet Federation, where a poet and his ex are reunited in a absurd plot to get them to marry.
The Severed Head takes place in the university and the hospital close by; the story gives the multiple perspective of faculty and students who confront the near decapitation of one of the philosophy profs as he proves that he can overcome adversity.
The Pros & Cons of Dragon-Slaying is set in a psychiatrist’s office where a young woman lays out her story of abuse in her father’s delusions that her pet lizard is a dragon.
Documenting the Waves takes place on board a ship carrying migrants from the Indian Ocean to the west coast of Canada as a documentary filmmaker (deprived of his camera) records the ocean voyage to a new land.
Lost Alphabet reprises the story of the ship arriving on the west coast off Vancouver Island, hoping to dock in a safe harbour, from the father’s point of view—the one who was left behind.
- Reading the Gallery is a fantasy set in a surrealist gallery, where the viewers experience the paintings by living in the worlds they depict.
Attempt dramatizes what happens to two characters who are lured to the mansion of a man who wants one of them killed.
- Endless Stairs, inspired by a painting by M.C. Escher, this “imaginary place” is the scene of family manipulation, rebellion, conformity and isolation.
- Apparition deals with the Italian virtuoso, Niccolo Paganini, who mounts a vigorous defence of his life and art against his demonic accusers, hell-bent on his damnation in a hellish adventure after death.
- Preliminary Notes for a Work on Humiliation takes place at a seaside resort along the Adriatic Sea where a man and his new bride find they despise each other and the honeymoon takes a bizarre twist in the matter of love and sex.
The Hat is set in a farming community in Mara Township, where an old man reminisces about a childhood experience at the funeral of his grandma who, as he discovers, denies that she is dead, but sitting up in a tree, and very much alive.
Sun Dogs, another poetry collection, is out now, published by Battered Suitcase Press, an imprint of Vagabondage Press.
The title refers to the celestial phenomena that appear as “mock suns.” We, too, appear to the world as lesser lights, dim reflectors, or optical illusions. Now you see us; now you don’t. Our lives are vanishing acts perfected from birth to death. Leonard Cohen’s poem, “Another Night With Telescope,” is a possible the line-through for Sun Dogs. As the stars “wheel/from sky to sky they rake/our lives with pins of light.”
These poems fly from Earth to Jupiter and back, but one can feel the sweat on the skin for the whole trip. Lenses, including those of our eyes, let the sky-watcher chart the trip of the time-traveller from beginning to end. We are all star-children, born into the universe, where we must wander from place to place and time to time in search of our own bliss.
The trip also take us to “inner space.” In three parts, Sun Dogs, as a themed collection, attempts to capture moments of wonder, loss and healing: 1. Planetarium, 2. Jealous Planet, and 3. Cosmic Therapies. The poems speak of the human journey – the odyssey of experience in a galaxy filled with legends and natural phenomena. Yet, the collection promises “cosmic therapy” – a time for something great.
Stephen Hawking encourages us to leave the Earth before it is too late. He says that “the human race shouldn’t put all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.” These poems heed his warnings, but dwell on what is still human as we quest for new worlds. Even if we surrender to life elsewhere and move to another planet, we must carry traces of who we are and try not to drop the basketful of old earth.
We need time to watch, wait and work in the world. Against warnings, we yearn for more time and seek out a sense of our own sovereignty. We wander and search – going backward and forward in time. On the trip, we’re out orbiting in a kind of planetarium of our own. Our souls are locked in our own machinery, traveling from childhood to old age.
While we’re in the world, we try to bring light. We travel through time-zones and arrive at a new destination. Often, the longing for the past is so intense that we try to travel back in time. But today and tomorrow rescue us from yesterday and help us to live in the here-and-now. Despite the anguish of departure and arrival, the time-traveller and the sky-watcher will sometimes know happiness.
Sun Dogs is a speculative collection that tells the story of life and dreams of leaving the Earth without breaking all the eggs in the basket of what is about to be: “a basket full of stars.”
Until Every Sky Repairs Its Stars
Climbing over red terrain, across new
pathways, and crawling on my hands and knees
in red dust, I was home. Everybody
was talking about getting out. I was
stepping in with the blaze-bright light of sun dogs.
Astonishing to watch, no longer a victim
of yesterday, today or tomorrow,
I stayed up half the night, despite the curfew,
and wondered what the last blink would bring—
what new twinklings it would hold—brighter than
I knew and know, mapping what I see and don’t.
I charted each breath it took to move: to go
where every sky repairs its stars and every
ocean rides again with millions of blue whales.
Vallum has invited me to read at the launch of the latest issue of the magazine (featuring poems on the theme of “Speed”) at the Supermarket on Augusta Avenue on September 29, 2014. I shall be reading (among other works) the poem, “Thrift,” as well as other pieces graciously accepted by Vallum.
Still Point Arts Quarterly:
My poem, “The Image of the Image,” will appear in the winter issue of Still Points Arts Quarterly. I am grateful to Christine Cote for her generous acceptance of the piece. Here is a preview:
“The Image of the Image”
by Anthony Labriola
. . . the still point, unmoving, placid, forever in its stillness.
With an axe, the protester hacks deep into the image.
In the naked art of reflection, seven slashes . . .
POOR LOVE & OTHER STORIES:
Anaphora Literary Press has just accepted another collection of short stories: Poor Love & Other Stories. The book will be out soon! The collection includes the following short fiction:
2. Getting It Right
3. Bear Tango
4. Dreaming of Death
5. Art of Surrender
7. Death Project
8. Miss Firepower 1975
9. Poor Love
10. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
Poor Love & Other Stories ($20, 174pp, 6X9″, ISBN: 978-1-68114-000-1, December 2014): These stories, in all their narrative voicings, deal with sorrow and still seek to find life’s joys. Despite conflicts, contradictions, sacrifices, surprises and ironies, the haunted and hunted characters try to comprehend death in detail. In so doing, the human spirit rises up and triumphs against the incomprehensible and bewildering aspects of life, love and death.
NOTE: Poor Love & Other Stories has a new cover!
ON BLOOMSDAY, JUNE 16, 2014, NEWS ARRIVED THAT BECKY HALTON, CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT PASSION: POETRY HAS ACCEPTED A COLLECTION FOR THE NEW CHAPBOOK SERIES. I AM VERY GRATEFUL FOR HER KIND AND GENEROUS ACCEPTANCE OF A DEEPLY PERSONAL WORK: Invisible Mending. But the task of publishing this expanded collection is now in the hands of Dr. Anna Faktorovich at Anaphora Literary Press. The new version includes two additional sections and embraces the theme of time as both chronology (Kronos) and as defining moments (Kairos).
The title refers to a technique used to patch fabric and leather so that the “wound” disappears. My father used “invisible mending” in his trade, plied in the late 40’s, after World War II, but abandoned when he came to Canada in 1952. The collection is a kind of “seance”—an evening to get in touch with him and the world he once lived in. Yet, as a linked collection, it traces the arc of a life from childhood to old age so that we can all relate.
The work is composed of modernist sonnets with stylistic variations. It tells the story of a life in a lyrical way. I used the sonnet form for compression and in honour of my father’s Italian heritage. Such lyric poets as Dante, Petrarch and later, Montale, are my models. In Invisible Mending, writing the story of a life is the theme of the collection. In the words of the poet, A.F. Moritz: “Remember that you once lived, that you were,/that you were someplace here (I almost added/’with us in our world’)/ but that might not be so).//Remember you had a story, even if you never knew.// (A.F. Moritz,“The Story” from The Sentinel.)
Our lives seem to be vanishing acts, perfected from birth to death. Yet we’re all children of the universe; we travel from place to place and time to time in search of our own bliss. Sometimes, the trip also takes us within. There are joys and sorrows, a sense of delight and yet there is also horror. The collection suggests that the “real horror” is losing a loved one. But though the poems keep an eye on death, the point is life, even the contemplation of a life beyond death. Certainly, there is remembrance. The poems speak of the human journey – the odyssey of experience in a world filled with legends and natural phenomena. The collection promises “therapy” for grief – for grief itself is a form of “invisible mending,” and a time for something great.
The sonnets dwell on our humanity as we quest for a new world. Even if we surrender to life elsewhere and move on, we must carry traces of who we are and try not to lose sight of the life-force within us and around us.
We need time to watch, wait and work in the world. We yearn for more time and seek out a sense of our own sovereignty. We wander and search – going backward and forward in time. On the trip, we are locked in our own experience, traveling from childhood to old age. What if we could live in reverse? What if there were no loss? Impossible. So, while we’re in the world, we try to bring light. We travel through time-zones and arrive at a new destination. Often, the longing for the past is so intense that we try to travel back in time. But today and tomorrow rescue us from yesterday and help us to live in the here-and-now. Despite the anguish of departure and arrival, we seek happiness.
Invisible Mending tells the story of life and tries to connect with the joy and grief that binds us all.
1. On the Pier
His fingers hook, twist and peek over
the hospital bed sheet. In and out of sleep,
hardly there from time to time, he catches a ghost
trio: piano, guitar and clarinet.
His brother’s death tango, barely audible
at first, plays backwards. My father’s ears stay clear,
intense and strong. Ghost music swells in reverse
from the finale of the death rattle
to the sounding of his youth and birth cry.
Standing on Pier 21, appearing to the New
World, he moves so he can live again, young once more,
only later to vanish from view. Like a crab,
if he could go backwards, younger and younger,
forever on the verge of being born.
2. The Refusal
My father’s deleted past was a shadow
in the Southern Apennines of Italy.
With nowhere else to go, he lived and died
in scenes from his life. But home was a place
he longed for—a lost mountain village—
undying desire. He wanted it left
exactly as he left it, and refused
to go back to the place, to keep it no other way
but the way he recalled it. If only in going
back, he could refuse to go on. His refusal
was a passageway, long and dark, tunneling
beneath the homeward mountains. Trying to mend
what time had broken, he went on, like a walking
shadow, then longed to get back with no right of return.
Be a friend to the present that is passing:
the future and the past will be given to you into the bargain.
-Gerard de Nerval (The Chimeras, translated by Richard Sieburth)
When he caresses the family circle
with long fingernails, or leaves teethmarks along
its bitter outer rim, the centre collapses.
And when he leaves it, the circle becomes
vicious. I record its bite-marks on my skin.
At 3 o’clock in the morning, the broken
circle welcomes him back and gathers him in.
The medium shows our family how to survive
the session—the lunatic evening.
At the séance, everyone is seated
in the right spot, as required, attuned to
the spectral nightfall. As sitters, we possess
a single energy with one chilling purpose:
to get in touch with our father’s spine-tingling ghost.
All the crooked and straight are included.
Tingling energy comes of its own accord.
Impulses along the spinal cord force us
to sit up straight. No grasping, or groping—
love has its own conducting properties.
On both sides, we say that love has called us here.
Yet skeptics and cynics collapse and sink
the circle. Worse is fear. No need to be afraid.
Our medium whispers: Don’t hate or envy
either the quick or dead. Everything broken
will be mended again. The home with its living
artefacts is best. When the kids and their kids
arrive, we gather together and settle in.
With the word, phantasmagoria, it all begins.
THE BARD & THE BEATLES
With the help of P.O.D. Service at the University of Toronto Bookstore, I have printed a new work that includes two novellas–The Bard & The Beatles comprises My Mistress’ Eyes and Before the British Invasion.
The Bard & The Beatles
What if you woke up one day to find that you were famous? Lord Byron wrote that he woke up one day to find that he was famous. Centuries before, Will Shakespeare woke up to the dawning of his Shakespearean fame. Centuries later, four lads from Liverpool woke up to the screams of Beatlemania to find they were fabulously famous!
The Bard & The Beatles brings together two short works of fiction—My Mistress’ Eyes and Before the British Invasion. Both narratives deal with the art of striving for success—the kind of success that leads to world-wide fame and the longing for artistic immortality. But against the ambition of making it in the arts, the power of love and the force of death array themselves against the striving artists. The push and the pull of desire and pleasure in love and art battle against their enemies: time, failure, envy, spite and malice. Armed with talent, how will the man from Stratford-Upon-Avon and the lads from Liddypool endure life’s natural shocks in order to prevail? In these stories, as in history, the Bard and the Beatles wake up one day to find that they are famous.
In My Mistress’ Eyes, Will Shakespeare endeavours through his passion, poetry and plays to triumph in the London scene and become a gentleman. In Before the British Invasion, the early Beatles struggle to climb to the toppermost of the poppermost of the pop music charts.
2014 was the 450th Anniversary of the Bard’s birth, and the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles U.S. Invasion.
With the generous support of a Toronto Arts Council Grant, a new poetry collection, THE BLESSING OF THE BIKES & OTHER LIFE-CYCLES, will be out soon, published by Anaphora Literary Press.
The Blessing of the Bikes & Other Life-Cycles is a themed work in three parts that catalogues and values urban life in Toronto. It chronicles the way we imagine and re-imagine the city. In so doing, the poems become urban praise songs. What would we miss if it were all to go missing? Even if we left the place behind for new cities (or the wilderness), what would always remain dear to us? What would our lives be without the places we have known, including public and private spaces? These poems measure and chart the value of our neighbourhoods and wish to preserve. By meditating on our storied past, the poems in The Bless of the Bikes & Other Life-Cycles measure and chart the value of where we live and consider pathways to the the city’s future.
When the living creatures moved, the wheels moved beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When they moved, the others moved; when they stopped, the others stopped; and when they rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
Up the ramp where the wheels (the colour of beryl stone)
move with us, free-wheeling through wide open front doors.
As a Monarch butterfly flutters in the archway,
we complete the first cycle. A carpet emblazoned
with a two-dimensional bike runs the full length
of the long centre aisle. When it rises
from the floor, the riders rise. Sprig of thyme shakes the air
with blessed droplets. The outloud spirit
of the freewheelers thrums with the topaz-tinted
wheels. When we move, others move; when we stop, they stop;
gears yield to gears; and when we roll, the wheels ride along
with us; for the spirit of the living cyclists
is spinning in their wheels. And in the minister’s
mouth, stepping down from the altar, Ezekiel’s wheel
keeps turning wheels-within-wheels for city-dwelling
riders and their bikes; and springtime wheels turn
with the cycling season. We roll back down
the aisle and out the front doors, like brides and grooms,
stripped bare by fluttering wings on a cycling
honeymoon. Now that we’re tuned up, Bike Pirates wait out-
side with chain checkers (and other wellness tools)
to tune-up the free-wheeling rhythms of our rides.
A Frayed Embrace
In a frayed embrace, two red-winged blackbirds
appear drawn from threadbare light. Their day-flight
scratched and sketched on the sky’s glass-smooth surface.
In an unclouded clasp, nets of skyline
try to grasp, catch and capture them. Hard to forget—
over the rigging, these city-born birds
escape nets of wide-flung light and soar above
Ontario Place. Witnesses of their
flight’s winged geometry still wonder at their
crystal-clear call and cry. While out strolling
near the sky-mirroring lake, my daughters skip
flat black stones on the water’s surface tension.
Light-sensitive, a ghost city from across the lake
looms in plumes of factory smoke. An artist’s
cliché verre captures their easy flight—
firm as birds’ wings, but a frayed embrace2.
Cataloguing the City
What wouldn’t I give to catalogue Hogtown
in an almanac of what was lost then found,
a drift of hogs—trotters trotting back to haunt
Muddy York? To itemize my part of it,
I’d give you trees standing in the water.
Post a letter to a lone mailbox on Yonge Street—
longest road in the country. Through the narrows,
I’d dedicate poles and nets to the route
connecting Lake Ontario to Simcoe.
In the spring run of walleye, pike, sucker,
and sturgeon, I’d fish for origins.
To chart the worth of city life—
even its wilderness and dark places,
its hauntings and subterranean ways,
I’d record it in flashes of 360
degrees from the Edgewalk of the CN Tower
to the gallery of exploding suns. To read it
as a fictional city, I’d cite its all-seeing
views. In the hyper-charge of cataloguing
the city, rooted here, rarer than the way
the Path runs underground—or earthed
at the mouth of the Humber River, I’d
recall how cars and bathers washed in the same stream,
and catalogue civic losses and all urban gains.
The Danforth (like a river) flows by with the flotsam
and jetsam of cabs and the single valve noise
of horns and the zany ringing of bicycle bells.
In city-planned darkness, one of the night
people insists on the comparison
and jubilation of approval and approbation
of the pedestrianization of the city.
Bless you, brothers and sisters, he says. Be safe.
But this city-dweller is a city-planner
in disguise. On his street map, it doesn’t matter
that nothing matters and that he doesn’t matter.
There are always subway stations and the safety
of sewers, like forgotten underground rivers,
for shelter. When the infrastructure caves, he plans
his night and tunnels into a Good Will box.
1As observed at Trinity-St. Paul United Church Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts, performed by Minister Vicki Obedkoff
2From John O’Neill’s description of The Rigged Universe
The Blessing of the Bikes & Other Life-Cycles: Poems: ($15, 112pp, 6X9″, ISBN: 978-1-68114-092-6, April 2015):The Blessing of the Bikes & Other Life-Cycles is a themed collection in three parts that catalogues and values urban life. It chronicles the way we imagine and re-imagine the city. In so doing, the poems become urban praise songs. What would we miss if it were all to go missing? Even if we left the place behind for new cities (or the wilderness), what would always remain dear to us? What would our lives be without the places we have known, including public and private spaces? These poems measure and chart the value of our neighbourhoods and the spirit of the city that we wish to preserve. By meditating on our storied past, the poems in The Bless of the Bikes & Other Life-Cycles measure and chart the value of where we live and consider pathways to the city’s future.
Note: The Blessing of the Bikes & Other Life-Cycles has a new look.
LONELY BOOKS LITERARY PRESS
With the help of the University of Toronto Book Pod, I have printed three new works:
1. Miss Firepower 1975 & The Art of Surrender
Written in the early and mid 1970s, these two works of short fiction grapple with the psychosexual obsessions in love and war. They bear witness to the false prophets and fake leaders hell-bent on self-destruction and psychic annihilation. In the battle, beliefs and dreams, sex and desire struggle against the surrender to violence and the death instinct.
2. Arrows of Desire
The selected stories in Arrows of Desire express the longing to live in a state of grace, despite the sorrows and shocks that the characters experience at various points in their lives. These stories keep an eye on death, while moving at all times towards the defining moments of new life. The stories in Arrows of Desire pierce the armour of darkness with shafts of light.
3. Tempo Furioso
Tempo Furioso is a novel of resistance and protest with fury and rage against the dying of the light. An old teacher, Leonardo Furioso, attempts to delete his blighted memories and a life filled with misadventures, misdirected passion and mistaken identity. Before it is too late, he mocks both life and death as cruel jokes and tries to discard the past and subtract himself from the world before it erases every trace of his life story.
THE JAPANESE WALTZING MOUSE & OTHER TALES
Cranberry Tree Press in Windsor, Ontario, is publishing a selection of stories entitled
The Japanese Waltzing Mouse & Other Tales. The book is now in print.
The Child-Artist • 1
The Art of Hunger • 11
The Art of Addiction • 29
The Japanese Waltzing Mouse • 41
The Tower • 47
The Art of Thirst • 54
Not Far from the Kingdom • 69
Fall of a Sparrow • 81
Preliminary Notes for a Work on Humiliation • 89
Marriage Quartet • 101
Mirror, Rope, Ladder • 125
The Hat • 131
BIRDS & ARROWS
The wonderful Christine Cote, publisher at Shanti Arts, has accepted a new work called Quiver.
Birds & Arrows is a sequence of linked poems in 2 parts, tracing the spiritual quest of a seeker, the Mystic Archer, who seeks out the meaning of his birth and the quality of his “true worth” in the world. In the words of Clement Rosset, reality must be negotiated in terms of joyous cruelty. But the point is life, even the contemplation of a life beyond love and death. Certainly, there is remembrance that tries to connect with the joy and grief that binds us all. There is also the “inconsolable longing for we know not what.”
Vallum Magazine has accepted a new poem for the “Wild” Theme edition. The poem, “Untamed Heart,” was written in honour of my beloved mother. The occasion was her 89th birthday, spent in the hospital cardiac unit. It was also Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2016. One of the other patients donned a red sweater and drew aside my mother’s curtain to sing her a version of the birthday song. The poem celebrates this “wild” meeting of “untamed” hearts. The poem will appear in the fall, 2016.
THE LONELY BARBER
Anaphora Literary Press has accepted a new work of fiction, The Lonely Barber, to be released in 2017.
This themed work catalogues and values city life, and chronicles the lives of characters trying, through love and work, to imagine and re-imagine their place in the city. This is an urban praise song, based on the story of one Torontonian and his coterie of friends and enemies. What would he miss if it were all to go missing? Even if he left the place behind for new cities (or even the wilds), what would always remain dear to him about the place? What would his life be without the places he has known, including public and private spaces? This approach should lead to an appreciation of the true worth of urban life.
The Lonely Barber focuses attention on how we imagine and build our cities. That is, what we have experienced as the story of our lives in relation to the city’s rare beauty. How was the place once imagined? How do we imagine our future? We measure and chart the value of what we have and what exists in reality and wish to preserve. The Lonely Barber expresses civic pride and enthusiasm for places of “possibility and potential.” The book catalogues and values the spirit of urban life by looking at a life lived in specific neighbourhood. The novella demonstrates that the city is made of stories. This is one of them.
Here is a book review featured in Publishers Weekly:
The Lonely Barber
Anthony Labriola. Anaphora Literary, $20 trade paper (140p) ISBN 978-1-68114-302-6
In this wonderful tale, a man battles the frenzy of love, the city, and local politics as he struggles to become a barber. Jude, aka Lonely, lives in the outskirts of Toronto, Canada. He is on the cusp of realizing his dream of becoming a barber when he has a run-in with a shoemaker who happens to be the town tyrant and the grandfather of Lonely’s ex-girlfriend Elena. But the entanglements don’t end there, as Simone—Lonely’s current girlfriend, whom he shortly replaces with yet another woman—is kidnapped by the short-order cook at the cafe where Elena worked, and begins a hot exchange of words and ideas with her captor. Despite the farcical, convoluted relationships and plot, the narrative is intriguing, with eccentric characters who are fully developed through rich dialogue. Readers will appreciate the exquisite imagery and Labriola’s pithy observations on life (“Losing changes a man, same as winning”). He infuses a plethora of literary works into his wordplay, making this novel a delightful adventure for lovers of language. (June, 2017)
RAFT OF THE MEDUSA
Zvona i Nari [Bells and Pomegranates] (in Istria) has accepted three poems for its border-crossing theme. “Sea Dragon,” Victim or Lost Object,” and “Raft of the Medusa” will appear courtesy of ZiN Daily. (https://www.zvonainari.hr/single-post/2017/03/21/Raft-of-the-Medusa-Anthonly-Labriola)
From the feature:
In reading the work of the Canadian poet, Anthony Labriola, we are reminded of the lethal water crossings that have been part of the migrant crisis ever since the very start. The death, the horror, the exploitation. We would like to thank the author for keeping this at the top of mind as Europe continues to struggle with its place on the compassion spectrum, and as it confronts moments to replace fear by trust and understanding.
There is nothing more artificial than a border that can be erected in the middle of the night. There is nothing darker than a stormy sea and no information about the journey ahead. Anthony’s work helps to illuminate all of this and more. He sent us some notes contextualizing his work.
“Canada is a nation of immigrants from our First Peoples to the Syrian Refugees and now to those risking their lives to flee the U.S. and cross the northern border to find freedom and acceptance. The immigrant experience is one that I know well. As a little boy, I stood on Pier 21 in Halifax, Canada, with my mother and my two brothers. Behind us was the Atlantic Ocean. Before us was new country on a new continent. We stood with our suitcases and a steamer trunk and stepped into a new life. The first step across any border is cautious, sometimes awkward and difficult, but with that border-crossing, a new life begins in a new world.
In the poem, “Raft of the Medusa,” the refugee’s song (“Find me, rescue me, hold me, keep me”) is a longing for compassion and acceptance. But it is also a heartfelt plea to embrace the personal struggles and moving stories of crossing borders.
The poem, “Sea Dragon,” is an evocation of the fear of departure and the anguish of arrival. The image of the little boy who did not make it, his little body washed up on a sandbar, face down next to a policeman’s boot, broke my heart. I had him in mind as I wrote the poem. Where is the border? How do we cross it? It was not supposed to be like this. The loss of life is both catastrophic and devastating.
In “Victim or Lost Object,” I allude to the Syrian crisis and appeal to people of conscience to “speak” about the borders that divide us… I suggest that we must find a new language in order to speak about the suffering of refugees. The language of fear prevents the crossing and seeks to build walls of exclusion.”
Thrill to see that the Editors of Vallum Magazine have kindly selected my poem, “Transmutations” as Poem of the Week: https://vallum.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/vallum-poem-of-the-week-transmutations-by-anthony-
The poem appears in Vallum as part of the Evolution Theme issue. The Vallum launch in Toronto is on the evening of Friday, April 28, 2017 at The Supermarket on Augusta Avenue.
Vagabondage Press (as part of “Strange Fictions”) has accepted and featured three of my poems on the “Fantasy” theme: “Dragon’s Blood,” “From the Dragon Slayer’s Notebook,” and “Improbable Rescue.”
STORY OF A PICTURE
“Bells and Pomegranates” as part of ZiN Daily in Istria has accepted four new poems: Here is an excerpt from the feature:
In the words of Ansel Adams, “There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” The photographer stresses the split-second timing of capturing the humanity of a photograph. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what words are worthy of that picture? Despite where we come from, each of us has likely reacted to the “humanity of the moment” in pictures dear to us, or those that alarm us, and shock us. But what images cut across all borders and boundaries to galvanize the moment of human joy or sorrow in all of us? Which photographs transcend politics, sexual orientation, national boundaries, prejudices, and special interests to allow us to enter into the drama of human experience? Those images reflect our “shared humanity.” We behold the image, and through a transformation of our perceptions, sometimes we “become what we perceive.”
I have selected four photos that shock, provoke, challenge, and even devastate me. These photos cut across many lines by crystallizing the moment “humanity” is under threat. In a surprisingly direct and vivid way, the photographs elicit a response beyond fear. This response is sometimes an act of defiance in the face of terror. For people of conscience, such images help to create empathy, which results in a call to action. We know that photos can be “doctored,” and that people, buildings, and even events can be “airbrushed” out of history. Each person, as well as each nation, family, ethic or cultural group, has images that are sacred to them, or that capture the truth in the sense that “seeing is believing.” Or in the words quoted by Samuel Beckett: “To be is to be perceived.” We look at an image, and enter into its depth of field, and sometimes we feel that we are becoming what we see. These poems deal with this transformation of our perceptions—seeing into becoming—when we see common humanity suffering. In a response to such anguish, we “share” in the heartache and shock of the experience. But beyond the heartache is a call to prevail and endure. We can enter into the image, which then imprints itself into our mind’s eye. Our way of seeing is changed, sharpened, and focussed. What is our response to such photographs? I invite others to open their photo albums or the image files to show us the pics that are part of their own moments of humanity.
In “The Story of a Picture,” the iconic photograph brought us an image of the War in Vietnam—the Vietnamese War or the American War—depending on the historical perspective. Nic Ut, the photographer, has gone on record to say that he was, in honour of his brother, looking for an image that would bring the war home to us, and compel us to change our hearts and minds to the point of acting to end the war.
He set down his camera and tried to help the little girl. She has suffered greatly since the picture was taken, including reliving the moment in the “story of a picture.” However, now a grown woman, married and with children of her own, she lives in a small community close to where I live in Canada. I have heard her speak about that picture “in her own words.” I have also heard the gratitude in her voice, and how she forgives the bomber and the bomb. She forgives in the name of compassion, but does not forget the story as she lived it of the photograph.
In “The Sequence of the Falling Man,” the tower is in flames. The unknown man’s leap or jump acts in defiance of the attack on 911. Who is he? What is his name? He is a son, perhaps, a brother, a husband, father, and friend. His is called the “falling man.” But his fall is a response to devastation. It shows humanity under siege. Is he a victim, or a victor? The sequence of images draws us in, unable to believe what we are seeing. He vanishes, but the sequence remains in our consciousness with its visual power and impact.
In “Tank Man,” the unknown person stands in front of a tank in defiance of its power and potential for destruction. He “dances” what some have called “the tango” in front of the iron-plated symbols of force and control. He is balanced in his steps, as he balances his shopping bags. Do the unknown contents of the bags challenge the tank to reconsider simply crushing him? Does he carry explosives, or his provisions as he returns home from the market? He steps into history, and then disappears. But the image burns into our awareness, and acts as a way of changing our image of the image of what humanity is.
“In Little Syrian Girl,” the child holds her arms up in surrender, thinking that the photojournalist’s camera is a weapon. She sees such actions everyday. It is the look on her face that captivated me. She does not seem to be afraid. It is a reflex action, but it shows great defiance in the face of fear. It is a heartbreaking image because it shows the impact of war and struggle and the way innocent children carry the burden of the violence.
Anaphora Literary Press has accepted two new works for publication: An Englishman in Italian and The Dandelion Clock.
An Englishman in Italian: ($20: Softcover: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-347-7; $35: Hardcover: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-348-4; $2.99: EBook: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-349-1; Historical Fiction; Release Date: September 7, 2017; Purchase on Amazon or Barnes & Noble): What if you woke up one day to find that you were famous? Lord Byron wrote that he woke up one day to find that he was famous. Centuries before, Will Shakespeare woke up to the dawning of his Shakespearean fame. An Englishman in Italian deals with the art of striving for success, the kind of success that leads to worldwide fame, and the perpetual longing for artistic immortality. But against the ambition of making it in the arts, the power of love and the force of death array themselves against the striving artists. The push and the pull of desire and pleasure in love and art battle against their enemies: time, failure, envy, spite, malice, and what Shakespeare calls the serpent’s tongue. Armed with talent, how will the man from Stratford-upon-Avon endure life’s natural shocks in order to prevail against time? Will Shakespeare endeavours through his passion, poetry and plays to triumph in the London scene and become a gentleman. John Florio tells the tale of Shakespeare’s dark romance with a certain Dark Lady and his enduring love affair with the Beauty of Words. The Bard wakes up one day to find he is famous. 2014 was the 450th Anniversary of the Bard’s birth.
The Dandelion Clock: A Novel: ($20: Softcover: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-350-7; $35: Hardcover: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-351-4; $2.99: EBook: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-352-1; Literary Fiction; Release Date: September 7, 2017; Purchase on Amazon or Barnes & Noble): is a novel of resistance. In rage and fury, it is a protest against “the dying of the light.” An old teacher, Leonardo Furioso, nicknamed Fury, sets out to delete his blighted memories of a life filled with misadventures, misdirected passion, and mistaken identity. The Dandelion Clock is also a portrait of a failed artist as an old man in a black frock coat with long, flaring, white hair. In his beleaguered and bewildered “second childishness” on the threshold of oblivion, Fury mocks both life and death as cruel jokes and joyous illusions, but delights in their cruel joy. The image of the dandelion clock refers to the childhood pastime of counting the puffs it takes to blow the seed-head off a dandelion in a past-flowering state to tell the time. Before it is too late, and in his rebellion against nature, Fury attempts to annihilate the past. He even hijacks and takes over the narration, shifting it from the third to the first person to speak for himself. As he says, one of the characteristics of the storytelling is the language—not only what is said, but how it is being said. His version of events requires the language of his faltering experiences. He wants to discard it all together, and subtract himself from the world before it erases every trace of his life story. He wants to discard it all together, and subtract himself from the world before it erases every trace of his self-obliterating life story. But, from another point of view, that of his alter ego, Hugh McNab, a stronger force wipes out its opponent virtually without loss. It is a story of transformation, a tale of conversion. In this way, the telling of the tale converts it, like subatomic particles, into radiant energy.
THE SLEEP OF REASON
& OTHER DAMNED POEMS
The Sleep of Reason & Other Damned Poems has been privately published by Anaphora Literary Press
The poems in The Sleep of Reason were written in the poet’s youth at the beginning of his experiments and poetic explorations. With sheer lyrical madness, poets such as Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, T S Eliot, Ezra Pound, WB Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Dylan Thomas, Anthony Burgess, Thomas Merton, Eugenio Montale and Leonard Cohen haunt the poet’s inner life in The Sleep of Reason They are often approximations of earlier works, translations or transliterations of dead poets. At other times, in daring homage or tribute, the poems interrogate each other, or interact and strive to get at their hidden truths. Some of the pieces, in different forms, have appeared in various magazines and collections. The entire work is a kind of “poet’s notebook” from which many new poems were derived, worked on, and developed over the years.
We may not know what a poet looks like, but we either recognize a poem or we don’t. We receive it, tuned to its reverberations, or we can’t or won’t welcome it. Are we tone-deaf to a poem’s music and its soundings? Are we blind to its simplicity How can we offer poems our hospitality?
In his “Message to Poets” Thomas Merton asserts that We who are poets know that the reason for a poem is not discovered until the poem itself exists. Poetry is a “living act.” In the instant of recognizing and receiving it, we experience its life. We breathe together, and our hearts beat at the same time.
Poems don’t hide or pretend to be what they’re not. They reveal the hidden possibilities of life. They wait to be recognized. Recognize poetry, and you receive it as a living performance. Acceptance gets the poems out there. Rejection keeps them in the dark, bound and gagged.
Bruno Schulz suggests that All poetry is mythologizing and strives to reconstitute myths about the world. The mythologizing of the world is not over yet; the process was only halted by the development of knowledge diverted into a side channel where it exists on without comprehending its own meaning. But knowledge is nothing more than the construction of a myth about the world since myth lies in the very elements themselves
and there is no way of going beyond myth. Poetry reaches the meaning of the world intuitively deductively with large daring shortcuts and approximations. (Translated by Jerzy Ficowski)
The title, based on an etching by Goya, suggests the clash between reason and the imagination, but it also implies the marriage of opposites. Reason can “invent” or make things up, and the imagination can become a fact-checker with a sense of wonder. Some of these poems are hallucinatory and even lugubrious in expressing time-states and mind-states, but others are direct and uncomplicated in their attempt to “reconstitute myths about the world” in the language of experience.
Birds and Arrows
Through the generosity and kindness of Christine Cote at Shanti Arts Publishing, this new collection of poetry is now out!
Birds and Arrows is a poetry collection centering on the spirituality of desire. As verbal designs, they reflect the shape and movement of birds and arrows in flight. Each sequence in counterpoint traces the arc of a journey, a quest with joys and sorrows, a sense of delight, and also grief. The quester is an archer contending with the mystifying forces of life and love. Faced with the bewildering and mysterious aspects of world, the archer yearns for the visible and the divine. The road leads to an apprehension of a love greater than the one once imagined.
The archer yearns for the perfect arrow that will hit the target of understanding. The seeker longs to find the self-surrendering of love as a way forward in the world. The mystic archer is wounded in battle in the face of today’s dangers, but still strives for mystical experiences in the real world.
Evelyn Underhill tells us that Mysticism is the art of union with Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment.
The poems in Birds and Arrows aim at such a target in the belief that the quest is real and true. Voices fly past, like arrows and birds in flight, and you hear their whirring sound, and their call and cry.
DRAGONFLY’S URBAN CRUSADE
An Dark Fantasy Thriller
Dragonfly’s Urban Crusade: A Dark Fantasy Thriller: (Softcover: $20, 210pp, 6X9”: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-403-0; Hardcover: $35: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-404-7; EBook: $2.99: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-405-4; LCCN: 2017916085; Fiction—Fantasy; Release: January 25, 2018):
Dragonfly’s Urban Crusade is a dark fantasy about the settling of old scores, and the longing for intimacy in a mysterious world. On his quest, a young man nicknamed Dragonfly sets out to solve the mystery of savage kidnappings, abductions, arson, and destruction in the Six. Fantasy and reality lead the detective and urban crusader to the discovery of a love greater than the one he once imagined.
Anaphora Literary Press has just released a new poetry collection:
Armour & Lace (From the Dragon Slayer’s Notebook).
Armour & Lace (From the Dragon Slayer’s Notebook): ($20, 126pp, 6X9”: Softcover: ISBN: 978-1-68114-358-3; $35: Hardcover: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-359-0; $2.99: EBook: ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-360-6; Poetry—Subjects & Themes—Love & Erotica; Release Date: December 1, 2017; Purchase on Amazon or Barnes & Noble): deals with desire, its myths and ever-evolving realities. The free-form poems trace the arc of a journey on which there are joys and sorrows, a sense of delight, and the re-configuring of lives lived. Beyond bewilderment and mystification, the poems also converse with grief and wonder. In the words of Clement Rosset, “reality must be negotiated in terms of joyous cruelty.” Yet Bruno Schulz states that, “All poetry is mythologizing and strives to reconstitute myths about the world.” In Armour & Lace, the mythologizing of the world is not over yet. Faced with the bewildering and mysterious aspects of living in a confusing world, the poems long to connect with reality and the ineffable. They express the inconsolable yearning for the world both visible and invisible. In ceaseless mental fights, and in states of anguish, we take the road of sensuality, love and beauty. Reality leads us to an apprehension of a love greater than the one we once imagined. The German word Sehnsucht captures “the inconsolable longing in the human heart for we know not what.” These poems yearn for the perfect arrow that will hit the target of understanding. They seek the mysteries of self-surrendering love, and reveal the fragmentation of visions of love. Though we are wounded in battle, we continue in our quests to know ourselves through experiences in the real world. These poems aim at such targets in the belief that our quests are real and true.
This collection forms a part of a trilogy that includes Birds and Arrows and Dragonfly’s Urban Crusade.