Hope is an activist

TRU Department of English Chair, George Johnson (left) has written a picture book about how kids can get involved in activism, the first in a series. The protagonist’s name is Hope. FULL STORY

Gossamer frailty, starvation begone

June 30th, 2016

Inspired in part by his love of the tall trees—ancient Douglas firs –and roving in the Qualicum Beach Heritage Forest, Joe Rosenblatt’s Bird in the Stillness (Porcupine’s Quill $16.95) is a collection of fifty forest devotionals dedicated to the mythic Green Man, a spirit of the woods of his own making. Rosenblatt tells a story through these sonnets, but it’s a narrative that is slowly revealed in lines and fragments. Each offering to the Green Man can be digested individually, with no expectations toward a larger tale. Each piece reveals minute glimpses into Rosenblatt’s interior. Behind these sumptuous praises is a man in the twilight of his writing career, overwhelmed by the timeless gaze of the trees. The poet is cast, by juxtaposition, in a fleeting, ephemeral light. Each poem reveals a little more about his myriad inadequacies when in the Green Man’s mighty shadow.

At times Rosenblatt’s muse is cast in equally human tones, but the dominant narrative is the majesty of the Green Man beyond anything humans can achieve. This collection of poems serves as a reminder of the gossamer frailty and solemn power of the Qualicum Beach forests.

Describing the Green Man, he concludes one of his sonnets:

His spirit is indomitable – and he won’t let it go astray.

I want to be a greener man than he who rules the forest.

How can I wrest the power from that unsmiling potentate?

A voice in my belfry desires that I be interred inside a tree.

I will not abide the creepy moss moving in and choking me.

The driving rain turns the soul to rot and that is terrifying.

In a review for Tidechange, Sharon Abron Drache notes that he has been both writing and drawing in response to the environment since he gained notoriety for a series of sound poems in the 1960s, Bumblebee Dithyramb, praising bees at Toronto’s Allan Gardens as Mother Nature’s proletariats. She ably recalls the evolution of Rosenblatt’s “nature-starved urban imagination. “As a teenager, Rosenblatt had fled to Allan Gardens to escape the death scene he witnessed daily while working in his Uncle Nathan’s Kensington Market fish store. For the young and sensitive poet, the fishmonger he previously respected had morphed into both a jailer and murderer as he confined fresh water carp in huge tanks before clubbing them to death for the gefilte fish made for the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays by his female customers – unlikely accomplices to his routine ichtycides.”

The Bird in the Stillness can therefore be likened to a spiritual feast. Nature is in abundance. Starvation, begone. “Rosenblatt’s muse,” writes Drache, “often a complex conglomeration of animated caricatures of naked women flitting in and out of his poems and drawings in their role as the perpetual guardian/nurturers of the natural world, are remarkably absent in his new book of sonnets, The Bird in the Stillness.” The deity of The Green Man is enough.

He lives in Qualicum Beach.

Rosenblatt, Joe with cat earlier days

Earlier days

BOOKS:

The LSD Leacock. Coach House Press, Toronto, 1966

Winter of the Luna Moth. House of Anansi, Toronto, 1968

Bumblebee Dithyramb., Press Porcepic, Erin l970

Tommy Fry & the Ant Colony ( fiction). Black Moss press, Windsor, l970

Blind Photographer. Press Porcepic, Erin, 1974

Dream Craters. Press Porcepic, Erin, 1975

Virgins & Vampires. McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1975

Top Soil, Selected Poems (l962-1975). Press Porcepic, Erin, 1976

Loosely Tied Hands. Black Moss Press, Windsor, 1978

The Sleeping Lady. Exile Editions, Toronto, l980

Brides of the Stream. Oolichan Books, Lantzville, B.C., 1983

Poetry Hotel, Selected Poems (1963-1985). McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1985

Escape From the Glue Factory. (autobiographical fiction) Exile Editions, Toronto, 1985

The Kissing Goldfish of Siam. (autobiographical fiction) Exile Editions, Toronto, 1989

Beds & Consenting Dreamers. (an experimental novel) Oolichan Books, Lantzville, B.C. 1994

A Tentacled Mother (in the original plus new sonnets) Exile Editons, Toronto, Oct. l995

The Rosenblatt Reader (selected poems and prose, 1962-1995) Exile Editions, Toronto, Oct. 1995.

The Voluptuous Gardener (new poetry and slected drawings from Carleton University Art Gallery permanent collection) Beach Holme Press, Van couver, Oct. 1996.

The Lunatic Muse [ed. David Barry] (Exile Editions, 2007) $22.95 978-1-8
55096-098-3

Dog (Mansfield Press, 2008). Poems by Joe Rosenblatt and Catherine Owen. Photos by Karen Moe.

The Bird in the Stillness (Porcupine’s Quill 2016) $16.95 978-0-889843-94-3

by James Paley

978-0-889843-94-3

BOOKS:

The LSD Leacock. Coach House Press, Toronto, 1966

Winter of the Luna Moth. House of Anansi, Toronto, 1968

Bumblebee Dithyramb., Press Porcepic, Erin l970

Tommy Fry & the Ant Colony ( fiction). Black Moss press, Windsor, l970

Blind Photographer. Press Porcepic, Erin, 1974

Dream Craters. Press Porcepic, Erin, 1975

Virgins & Vampires. McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1975

Top Soil, Selected Poems (l962-1975). Press Porcepic, Erin, 1976

Loosely Tied Hands. Black Moss Press, Windsor, 1978

The Sleeping Lady. Exile Editions, Toronto, l980

Brides of the Stream. Oolichan Books, Lantzville, B.C., 1983

Poetry Hotel, Selected Poems (1963-1985). McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1985

Escape From the Glue Factory. (autobiographical fiction) Exile Editions, Toronto, 1985

The Kissing Goldfish of Siam. (autobiographical fiction) Exile Editions, Toronto, 1989

Beds & Consenting Dreamers. (an experimental novel) Oolichan Books, Lantzville, B.C. 1994

A Tentacled Mother (in the original plus new sonnets) Exile Editons, Toronto, Oct. l995

The Rosenblatt Reader (selected poems and prose, 1962-1995) Exile Editions, Toronto, Oct. 1995.

The Voluptuous Gardener (new poetry and slected drawings from Carleton University Art Gallery permanent collection) Beach Holme Press, Van couver, Oct. 1996.

The Lunatic Muse [ed. David Barry] (Exile Editions, 2007) $22.95 978-1-8
55096-098-3

Dog (Mansfield Press, 2008). Poems by Joe Rosenblatt and Catherine Owen. Photos by Karen Moe.

The Bird in the Stillness (Porcupine’s Quill 2016) $16.95 978-0-889843-94-3

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