Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Sea Question

This is a beautiful book of poems by Elizabeth Smither accompanied by photographs by Jane Dove Juneau. (South Pacific Light Press 2010)

It reminds me a bit of the genre of book I was once familiar with, in my past: the devotional prayer/photo book I used to pick up when on a contemplative prayer retreat at a convent or monastery or other spiritual centre.

The aim is not to hurry through the book, but to stop with an image or a word or a line.

And head off on your own direction, or even into stillness.

Smither is a fine poet, so there is no question of this being a mere coffee table book, or even that her poems needed enhancement in any way. They didn't. The addition of the photography is just a gift, allowing for visual as well as poetic meditations, and for connections to be traced or developed if you feel like it.

The book is a treasure. An indulgence perhaps, because of course, including attractive glossy full-page photographs means it costs more than a slim volume of verse, and it's probably too big to read on a bus or a plane.

I think it would make a fine gift, for oneself or for someone else.

It's like a portable refreshment for the mind and heart - and the soul, if you like.

Here's my current favourite phrase from the book:

"all cats are publishers"

(from 'A Cat called Straus')

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