Hendrik Slegtenhorst Recommends Robert Melançon


Le paradis des apparences (2004)
For as Far as the Eye Can See (Biblioasis, 2013)
by Robert Melançon, tr. Judith Cowan

Genre: Poetry & poetry translation.

Robert Melançon

Robert Melançon

Quick description:
The book consists of 144 12-line sonnets, intricately based upon the truncated form, the sonnets lacking a concluding couplet, but the book’s overarching structure of 12×12 invigorating.
Melançon’s explains this in sonnet 36:

Tout doit tenir en douze vers – un sonnet allégé …
Je m’en tiens au paradis des apparences :
Je trace un rectangle de douze lignes;
C’est une fenêtre par laquelle je regarde
Tout ce qui apparaît, qui n’a lieu qu’une fois.

Judith Cowan

Judith Cowan

Which Judith Cowan translates as:
It all has to fit into twelve lines—a lesser sonnet …
So I shall settle for the paradise of what I see:
I trace this rectangle of twelve lines and
make of it a window through which to observe
all that appears, and that happens only once.

Why I recommend this book:
Poetry with magnificent control of content, allusion, thematic integrations, form, metre, and of the sound of language; the fine interplay of sound, elevated further, because unbound, by the coherence of form. I first came to Melançon’s work through Donald McGrath’s prize-winning translation of Elégie écrite dans le parc Notre-Dame-de-Grâce in The Malahat Review 188 (2014). It had an immediate impact on me, for I lived two blocks from the park for many years, and the poem spoke to me with the reality of the place and the effect of its actuality on one’s thought when there.

Links for people to buy the book:
Chapters/Indigo – paperback
KOBO – eBook

Profile 3 130825 Headshots 018 Gloria SteelGuest reviewer’s latest title or project:
Covenant, my second book of poetry, was completed in March 2015. My third book of poetry, Constellations of Desire, is in progress.

Hendrik Slegtenhorst has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations.

Hendrik Slegtenhorst

Profile 3 130825 Headshots 018 Gloria Steel Hendrik Slegtenhorst

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Caravaggio’s Dagger (Iguana, Toronto, 2013) – poetry

Quick description: Many come to evil, yet some still search for a better way to be.

Exemplified by the art of Caravaggio, this work inquires: what, then, is a pursuit of right action?

Caravaggio, the murderous, brilliant 16th-century painter, depicted the decapitation of John the Baptist at the moment the act is botched: jugular severed, head attached, the saint in agony—a rendering of humanity’s predilections placed above the altar of the Maltese co-cathedral of the military Knights of Saint John.

The chapbook version was a finalist for the Sharon Drummond Chapbook Prize, Calgary, Alberta, 2013.

Many of this book’s poems have previously been published in established Canadian literary periodicals such as Canadian Literature, Descant, The Fiddlehead, Grain, Prairie Fire, The New Quarterly, Nashwaak Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Malahat Review, Qwerty, WordWorks, and Windsor Review, as well as in well-regarded periodicals that have ceased publication, such as Ala, Colorado Quarterly, Quarry, and The Far Point.

Caravaggio’s Dagger is structured as six taxonomies or sections, and contains 83 poems. Taxonomy in this instance refers to division into ordered group or categories. The opening taxonomy, “Pyre of the Accidental Butterfly,” deals with instances of war and social disruption. The second taxonomy, “In the North of the Afternoon,” with the perplexities and vexations of personal life. Taxonomy Three, “At the Widening of the Narrows,” of the intrusion of death into these perplexities. Taxonomy Four, “The Waterways of Avalon,” of approaches to what is gone and past. Taxonomy Five, “Confluence of the Tributaries,” a synthesis of how to recognize what is worthwhile and of beauty in this decay of time. And, the sixth and last taxonomy, “Caravaggio’s Dagger,” with how the artistry of place can assist in an awareness of the inexorability of war and social disruption.

Caravaggio's Dagger Colour (1)

Brief biography:
Hendrik Slegtenhorst has published Caravaggio’s Dagger (Iguana, Toronto, 2013) and over 100 works in established publications. He is a past co-chair of the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton, past president of the Federation of British Columbia Writers, and a past director of the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Authors’ Association. He has held executive positions in government, heritage, and post-secondary education. His cultural website may be found here. He lives in Vancouver.

Links to buy Hendrik’s book:
Iguana Books – eBook and print
Amazon Canada – eBook and print
Amazon Worldwide – eBook and Print
Indigo – eBook

Hendrik’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
Covenant, my second book of poetry, was completed in March 2015. My third book of poetry, Constellations of Desire, is in progress.

Hendrik’s reading recommendation:
Di Brandt, Now You Care