Readers familiar with John Lent’s work will be drawn into Cantilevered Songs by his impressive ability to make poetry useful, not in the sense that it will solve problems, or create codes or alibis for how live. No. Useful in the sense that we all live somewhere, come from somewhere, hear things, see other things, and remember. When we share this with others as writers do, we transform the ordinary. We make it magical; make it important. This is Lent’s gift – to remind us all that we have lives worth thinking about; to remind us that our own backyards, roads home, work, play and love are uncommon wonders. This is what he means when he says: “Play that song. Play it again. Now, improvise,”
Lent’s poetry gains its energy from his own recognition of its usefulness as much as it gains its art from his own experiences with music, art, family friends and the his work as a teacher, musician and writer in the Okanagan. And while it is important to recognize his structured play with visual architecture, to make the poems resemble what they observe, to capture the cadence of those crazy personal mysteries, to hear the backbeat moments of when you catch a big and strange idea sideways and then it disappears, in the end it is the small, but beautiful, epiphany of feeling triumphant for no reason other than you have lived.
"I can think of no Canadian writer who so thoroughly positions us in front of the mirror that might offer us at once both reality and the imagined. It is to Lent that I turn when I need to be reminded, when I need to discover again, how the writer works in the daily world of place while aspiring to what endures.
He is there, the writer writing out of and in the present." — Robert Kroetsch
- Longlisted for the 2010 ReLit Award for Poetry
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