BC Poetry 2017: "Helpless Angels" by Tom Wayman (Thistledown Press)

Excerpt from “Like Water, Music”
Indeed, the human throat and mouth
are shaped as much for music
as for any other utterance. Sung words
were perhaps coincident with speech
—one thinks of those stutterers
who nonetheless can mellifluously

When winter fog
hovers over white fields here, shelves of ice
materialize at the edges of the rivulets and creeks
that thread out of the mountainside spruce and cedar forest.

So, too, fingers absently strumming guitar strings,
or an ear that absorbs a sequence of heard or
imagined sounds, or a hand scribing time-signature changes
onto a sheet of lined staves
are transubstantiated
by a mind into harmonies, contrapuntal rhythms, ballads

while above the ridges
float enormous clouds
—vast reservoirs of future music.


Tom Wayman has published more than twenty poetry collections, three essay collections, two short story collections, a collection of novellas, and a novel. He has also edited six poetry anthologies. He has been Writer-in-Residence at the universities of Windsor, Alberta, Simon Fraser, Winnipeg, and Toronto. He is a co-founder of two BC alternative post-secondary ventures: the Vancouver Centre of the Kootenay School of Writing (1984–87) and the writing department of Nelson’s Kootenay School of the Arts (1991–2002). He is currently a director of the Calgary Spoken Word Festival Society and of Nelson’s Kootenay Literary Society, where he serves on the education committee and the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival organizing committee. Wayman lives in Winlaw, BC.


Helpless Angels weaves several themes together: music’s impact on a life, expressed through memory; poems that are like songs; music found in or described through nature; poems that directly consider music’s power; and, as a counterpoint to how music carries us through life, how art — and each of us — deals with significant loss. Wayman looks at the ubiquitousness of widespread personal access to music that began in the 1950s and has continued to expand ever since.


Arrives May 1st, 2017 (Monday!).


Book Launches: May 12, 7:30 PM, Oxygen Art Centre, Nelson. May 26, 7:30 PM, The Bean Scene, Vernon. June 8, 7 PM, VPL Central Branch, Vancouver. Details on all Tom's launches can be found here.

Purchases: From the Thistledown Press website or at your local bookstore. $20.


Looking at the ubiquitousness.

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.

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