still life, 2017. Susan Glickman
What We Carry
my seventh volume of poetry with Signal Editions of Véhicule Press
From the Reviews:
“The respect paid to nature in this book is palpable and the sadness at its destruction is equally strong. The technical dexterity is as powerful as the emotions and shows a poet at the peak of her creativity.”
– – Candace Fertile, Quill and Quire, April 2019.
“A keen awareness of mortality underlies the poems in Susan Glickman’s vibrant seventh collection. It’s expressed not as dread but as a bittersweet cherishing of what she holds dear, from memories to music to nature. As the Toronto poet and novelist puts it in one poem, “with more time behind you than ahead,/the world grows larger, pregnant with wonder.” The world’s losses grow larger, too: “Elegies for the 21st Century” is a series of sonnets addressed to various extinct species, including the river otter of Japan “once abundant as reeds in the waters.” These lyric poems have an unassuming grace and clarity, and an eclectic range: Glickman “translates” a number of Chopin’s 24 Preludes, Opus 28, into poems that mirror the mood of the music; elsewhere, she muses wittily on the travails of urban life, such as being “hemmed in … by backpacks and hockey bags,/groceries and gifts” on a crowded streetcar.
—Barb Carey, The Toronto Star, April 6 2019
The Smooth Yarrow
(Montreal: Véhicule Press, 2004)
To read a poem, click on the cover!
From the Reviews:
“The universe is a cabinet of mysteries we tiptoe by, wondering,” Susan Glickman writes in one of the poems in The Smooth Yarrow. That capacity for wonder is a hallmark of this Toronto writer’s appealing sixth collection. ..she writes with clarity and unassuming grace about a range of subjects, including the death of her father (in the book’s most poignant poem, “Breath”). She’s also capable of broad humour (the iconic poet Rilke is depicted lazing in a hammock and sipping a Long Island Iced Tea: who says waiting for inspiration to strike is hard work?)… Elsewhere, she describes the quality of light that makes “the half-full glass of autumn brim over//with glory. Not an upper case, grandiose kind of Glory/but a halo tossed like a Frisbee, accidental and luminous.” Glickman’s own poetry is rooted in the quotidian, not the grandiose. But it’s quietly affecting and often luminous.”
— Barbara Carey, The Toronto Star, November 16, 2012.
“The Smooth Yarrow calls on ancient wisdom, is earthy and enigmatic, and trembles with embodied memory and premonition … Glickman’s writing is defiant: like yarrow, it is lean and strong, not only beautiful, but possessed of myriad healing properties.”
— Stevie Howell, Quill and Quire, May 2012.
“In Susan Glickman’s The Smooth Yarrow, the poet makes her subject the depth and breadth of, as one poem titles it, Average Life. Her chief music is the human body, its composite breaks and gurgles … Glickman’s topics are typical, but she finds incorrigible depth in poems like Down in the Mouth, about a toothache … The Smooth Yarrow finds her at her best, able to leap tall ennui in a single bound.”
— Jacob McArthur Mooney, The Globe and Mail, July 30 2012
‘You would be hard pressed to find a more natural voice in Canadian poetry and a voice full of such casual authority… Like all of her poems, those in The Smooth Yarrow are so humane and heartfelt and yet there is a tension underlying this naturalness – and it is that tension that makes these poems/stories universal. Glickman knows what it is that we want to know.”
— Michael Dennis, http://michaeldennispoet.blogspot.ca/
“Susan Glickman’s book, The Smooth Yarrow, shows a chilling awareness of mortality through the accumulation of injuries like broken bones and the loss of teeth. Not old yet, she is close enough to celebrate elderly women “who use their best china every day / and jump the queue at the grocery store because they have so little in their baskets / and no time to waste.” Even her garden poems mix exquisite celebrations of new life with knowledge of the transience of beauty. The first section of her work is called “Homeopathic Principles.” Whatever the truth of homeopathy as a medical practice might be, the philosophy of treating an illness with drugs that induce its symptoms is – suggestive. A poem can build up our resistance by administering mild doses of the very toxins that we suffer from in living: sickness, age, grief. The loss of a loved one is the greatest toxin of all, and Glickman’s elegy for her father, “Breath,” offers not consolation but a powerful recreation of his passing, with the breath of the dying man as the focal point for a family unsure how to react. Emily Dickinson’s great poem, “IheardaFlybuzz–whenI died” comes to mind, but the confusion in Glickman’s poem is in the watchers, not the person dying. “We hesitated, no longer sure what to pray for.” Uncertainty is the paradoxical remedy here, evidence of how deeply the family cares. The poem that deals explicitly with homeopathy as a metaphor is “Homeopathic Remedies for Scar Tissue.” Glickman knows that life is a series of scarring experiences. One remedy is to smear sandalwood paste on the injury. It will attract bees, from which we may learn how to dance in the sun and how to fight back, though a bee’s self-defence is fatal. But life is fatal, after all. In one of her excellent garden poems she celebrates the compacted hearts of rosehips (analogues for the mature poet), and calls them “Late bloomers: late / as in late Brahms. Not tardy / but ripe.” The analogy with the great autumnal works of Brahms is a good one and also fits Glickman’s own wise and elegant work.”
— Bert Almon, The Montreal Review of Books, Spring 2013 .
“All in all, The Smooth Yarrow is an eclectic, evolving mixture. Like yarrow, an herb often used to stanch the flow of blood from wounds, the collection touches on some painful material but winds up being strangely soothing. Glickman possesses a wry humour and a deep, thorny wisdom that shines through even The Smooth Yarrow’s darkest pieces and turns them into playful riffs on the chaos and hidden beauty of life.”
— Scott Daley, The Bull Calf; www. thebullcalfreview.ca
“The Smooth Yarrow has a conversational tone in places, such as the poem “Homeopathic Remedies for Scar Tissue” where she has a cheeky conversation with well-intended misguided advice, [p. 22]
Tie a handful of crushed mint leaves in a piece of muslin to extract their juice. Rub the cloth all over your scars. You may be wounded, but don’t you smell fresh!
Although also about grief and its toxins, she keeps a more irregular and irreverent distance from it. The poems are not without skin and allow themselves to unpin themselves, move and move again.
One of my favorite poems in the book is “Things From Which One Never Recovers” which is a list poem that shifts weight continually over its length from
The girl on the high school basketball team who said
You have the biggest ass I’ve ever seen
the taste of cod-liver oil in a spoonful of molasses
administered by a schoolfriend’s proper British mother
as a prophylactic against obsolete diseases
The clipped tone that moves sternly merrily on, saying and leaving it to the reader to understand rather than spend time jawing it all out further to the nth degree is nice. And the cadence is terribly tasty. As it is later in the poem that doesn’t grow old,
a contemptuous review that gets everything wrong in elegant language
like a sadist with impeccable manners
the entrenched injustice of the world that renders one’s own problems
too trivial to mention
that there are different kinds of shoes for every sport
but only one pair of arthritic feet.
It’s a dark humour but it lines up well with my own.
— Pearl Pirie, http://pagehalffull.com/pesbo/2013/04/01/versefest-plan-99-presents/
Susan Glickman creates beautiful images and music in her poetry. I give her book “The Smooth Yarrow” my highest recommendation.
— on November 22, 2012 on AMAZON
Earlier volumes of poetry:
Running in Prospect Cemetery: New & Selected Poems
(Montreal: Véhicule Press, 2004)
To read a poem, click on the cover!
From the Reviews:
“From the first page, I was gripped by Glickman’s clear voice, and her frankness soon earned my trust. Even in her earliest poems, she is adept at capturing mood in her narrative, realist style — the bravery required of living alone, for example, or the trepidatious hope brought on by a day of false spring. But what wins me is Glickman’s ability to tackle big emotions while confronting ambivalences.”
–Sonnet L’Abbé, The Globe and Mail, Saturday, July 17, 2004
“Intelligence, compassion and wit permeate Glickman’s writing. She seems to have more of an understanding than most people of what life is all about and the scope of topics – about which Glickman seems quite knowledgeable – is impressive.”
— Pat Johnson and Cynthia Ramsay, The Western Jewish Bulletin, November 19, 2004.
“Glickman (is) capable of unpredictable metaphor, and those insights toward which every poet strives: the ones that startle with both truth and originality. She allows herself the freedom to stumble on unexpected associations and to run with them. She can string together a solid line, can carry a poem to its logical — or, even better, illogical — end. Her toolkit contains wisdom, perspective, humour… She exploits the personal, but judiciously; she is not a navel-gazer. Her subject matter is neither self-indulgent nor small time.”
–Anita Lahey, The Malahat Review, Winter 2005
“Susan Glickman is a poet of astonishing versatility and skill. She is able to carry off the long poem and the sequence in a way that few contemporary poets can. Her best poems are infused with an intelligent irony, which makes them instantly likeable, but not at all throwaway or glib. And if the new poems included here are any sort of guide, she still seems to be growing as a poet, at a stage in her career when many would be content to rest on their reputations.”
–Kevin Higgins, Books in Canada, March 2005, 29-30
“It was a treat to be able to trace Susan Glickman’s career through its various creative and domestic stages in her Running in Prospect Cemetery: New and Selected Poems. Do all volumes of selected poetry imply a spirit of nostalgia, not just a look back, but a desire to repossess what recedes from us? …I think of Glickman as a kind of prophet of household immediacy, both its redemptive joys and its complicated relationship with a writer’s creative imperatives … I’m not sure why, but Glickman’s voice always makes me think of the person who will keep everyone’s spirits up while the ship is sinking, but who you know probably cries herself to sleep at night. “
–Jeffrey Donaldson, University of Toronto Quarterly 75, Winter 2006, 49.
Two even earlier volumes are still available
Hide & Seek (Montreal: Vehicule Press, 1995)
Click on the cover to read extracts from the book!
Click here to buy the book: Hide & Seek
Henry Moore’s Sheep and Other Poems (Montreal: Vehicule Press, 1900)
Click on the cover to read extracts from the book.
My first two collections, The Power to Move (1986) and Complicity (1983), both also from Vehicule Press, are out of print. The best poems from those books may be found in Running in Prospect Cemetery.