Friday, November 19, 2010

Don McKay, Songs for the Song of Creation

Two-time winner of a Governor General's Literary Award, winner of the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize, Member of the Order of Canada and co-founder (with Stan Dragland) of Brick Books, Don McKay has been writing and publishing some of the best eco-poetry in Canada for nearly forty years. He used to do this in places such as Ontario and British Columbia, but these days McKay is praising the natural world from Newfoundland and Labrador.

McKay has been quoted as saying his poetry is “nature poetry in a time of environmental crisis.” Here is one of McKay's superlative hymns to all things bright and beautiful:

Song for the Song of the Loon

If that’s the word:
the song’s already gone
before it’s uttered so the ear is left
full of its emptiness,
It seems the loon
opens its throat to some old
elemental wind, it seems that time
has finally found its syrinx and for a moment
lets itself be voice.
what perilous music!
Surely, like Odysseus, we ought
to stop our ears against this feral
MRI with its dreadful
diagnostic reverb?
But no, we would rather
be stricken, rather suspect
that the spirit also is a migratory species,
that it is right now flying to star river —
as the ancients called the Milky Way — that in
fact it is already there,
yodelling for no one and
ignoring us, the collectors,
with our heads full of closets,
our hearts full of ovens,
and our sad feet.


Listen to Don McKay read a poem from Songs for the Songs of Birds, which contains poems selected for Rattling Books and read by the author on the theme of birds, birding and flight. Songs for the Songs of Birds is available as an MP3 download or an audio CD.