BC Poetry 2017: "A tattered coat upon a stick" by Christopher Levenson (Quattro Books)

One Year After

One year after the Japanese tsunami,
thousands of miles to the east
and shorn of all context
the ocean regurgitates its swag: 
the detritus of nightmare
is beached on the BC coast— 
a toxic cargo of toys,
a basketball, whole sheds,
a motorbike, a boat — everything
the sea could bear
to take upon itself.
Though nothing can reconstitute
those lives. This delirium 
of abandoned goods, reduced
by wind and tide, 
remains anonymous,
drifts here to bring home
to us, who want for nothing,
disaster’s cornucopia.

Christopher Levenson is the author of 12 books of poetry. His previous book, Night Vision, also from Quattro Books, was short-listed for the 2014 Governor General’s Award. He taught English and Creative writing at Carleton University, Ottawa, where he was co-founder and first editor of Arc magazine and series editor of Carleton University Press’s Harbinger imprint for first books of poetry. He now lives in Vancouver.

You can read my interview with Christopher, about Night Vision, here.


A tattered coat upon a stick represents both a summing-up and a continued breaking of new ground by a distinguished poet still at the top of his game after a long career. This full-bodied, symphonically-arranged collection encompasses Levenson’s early years in England, a sequence of poems that vividly surveys the geography along the length of the Trans-Canada Highway through to Vancouver, a poignant meditation on the life and music of Brahms, and humourous and ironic sketches concerning old age.


Arrived March 2017.


Book Launches: Thursday, April 6th in Vancouver.

Purchases: From the Quattro Books website or at your local bookstore. $18.


Symphonic arrangement.

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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