Saturday, February 13, 2010

Book Review of Huge Blue by Patrick Pilarski

by Andrea McKenzie Raine

Patrick Pilarski's small poems, or meditations, in his first collection Huge Blue leave monumental footfalls in recording the various terrains of western Canada. In the tradition of Japanese poetry--haiku, haibun, tanka and senryu--the crisp and condensed images embody a larger experience and draw the reader into a heightened intimate moment. Pilarski uses these forms to capture his relationship with the natural world. The poems are placed like small stepping stones across the varying landscapes, and mark the resting points where the poet reflects on the journey's highlights with his travel companion. In Pilarski's use of the tanka prose and haibun form, there is a sprinkling of humour or surprise in the normalcy of everyday actions or reactions to the unfolding of the speaker's surroundings. For instance, in the poem "Last Load", the speaker comments on the adjustments to a new environment after a long journey and how his partner suddenly remembers 'the box of handmade pottery above the stove'. There is a sense of restlessness in an otherwise state of exhaustion; something random and contrast.
The poems also reflect on the seasons, and how the weather and natural landscapes are parallel to how the poet moves through his emotions in these changing landscapes. Nature is also personified, as witnessed in the lines: two mountains/ cross-legged in the valley/ watching the storm/ one pulls the screen, changes/ into its best white gown. Pilarski focuses on the seemingly small, yet miraculous happenings in the natural world. The use of the Japanese poetic form is appropriate to record these snapshots of time and place, and to share these personal experiences on a global plane. Huge Blue is published by leaf press. For more information, visit

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