The Essential James Reaney by James ReaneyThe Essential James Reaney by James Reaney

The Essential James Reaney

byJames Reaney

Paperback | November 1, 2009

Pricing and Purchase Info

$11.66 online 
$12.95 list price save 9%
Earn 58 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


Ships within 1-3 weeks

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Reaney's influence on Canadian poetry has not yet been recognized adequately. His humour and metaphorical leaps are echoed at times in the poetry of another long-time resident of Southwestern Ontario, Don McKay, not so coincidentally once a student of Reaney's. His dictionary-ransacking word-play in a poem like `The Alphabet' caught the attention of bpNichol, who once wrote that Reaney was `an explorer & an innovator ... obsessed with language as sound'.

At James Reaney's funeral on June 14, 2008, his son's tribute recalled his father as many things: poet, playwright, puppeteer, director, painter, historian, regionalist, scholar, student, wit, visionary, patriot, organic farmer, long-distance cyclist, shivaree-maker, dragon-slayer, and conversationalist (and that list is incomplete, g...
Title:The Essential James ReaneyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:64 pages, 8.75 × 5.55 × 0.26 inPublished:November 1, 2009Publisher:Porcupine's QuillLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889843198

ISBN - 13:9780889843196

Look for similar items by category:


Read from the Book

The Bicycle Halfway between childhood & manhood, More than a hoop but never a car, The bicycle talks gravel and rain pavement On the highway where the dead frogs are. Like sharkfish the cars blur by, Filled with the two-backed beastOne dreams of, yet knows not the word for, The accumulating sexual yeast. Past the house where the bees winter, I climb on the stairs of my pedals To school murmuring irregular verbs Past the lion with legs like a table's. Autumn blows the windfalls down With a twilight horn of dead leaves. I pick them up in the fence of November And burs on my sweater sleeves. Where a secret robin is wintering By the lake in the fir grove dark Through the fresh new snow we stumble That Winter has whistled sharp. The March wind blows my ruts over, Puddles past, under red maple buds, Over culvert of streaming, under White clouds and beside bluebirds. Fireflies tell their blinking player Piano hesitant tales Down at the bridge through the swamp Where the ogre clips his rusty nails. Between the highschool & the farmhouse In the country and the town It was a world of love and of feeling Continually floating down On a soul whose only knowledge Was that everything was something, This was like that, that was like this -- In short, everything was The bicycle of which I sing.

Table of Contents

`Poems 1945-49' in Poems (1972)

The Antiquary

A Prayer

The Gramophone

Antichrist as a Child

The Red Heart (1949)

Dark Lagoon

The Chough

The Plum Tree

The Sundogs

The Katzenjammer Kids


Lake Superior

`Poems 1951-60' in Poems (1972)

The Ghost

The Baby

The Windyard

Doomsday, or the Red Headed Woodpecker

A Suit of Nettles (1958)

Invocation to the Muse of Satire

From January

From June

From August

From October

`Poems 1960-65' in Poems (1972)

Near Tobermory, Ontario

The Alphabet

Twelve Letters to a Small Town (1962)

The Bicycle

Shakespearean Gardens

To The Avon River above Stratford, Ontario

From The Dance of Death at London, Ontario (1963)

Performance Poems (1990)

From A City in Greenland

From Footnotes & Podiatry

Souwesto Home (2005)

The Fan

The Duck

`White Grumphies, white snow'

Don Quixot de la Verismo

Elderberry Cottage

From Brush Strokes Decorating a Fan

Editorial Reviews

?Few would disagree, if pressed, that the word ?essential? is overused. That's not the case with this book. The essence of James Reaney?s poetic works has been more than adequately distilled in this slim volume. Both the preface and the afterword allude to the fact that Reaney?s literary and artistic accomplishments encompassed several areas: poetry, of course; but also, plays, short stories, and novels. In his later career, he was, in fact, more recognized for his playwriting than his poetry. Nevertheless, the poems in this book, selected by Brian Bartlett, demonstrate a singular strength and vision that, but for the lack of a wider readership, almost certainly would have earned him a place as a widely known and respected 20th Century Canadian poet.?Subtly experimental and formally inventive, Reaney was a master at subverting simple and complex rhyme schemes and bending them to his poetic will, making a sort of conservative magic out of his subject matter. He also employed myth, and sometimes simple comic absurdity, to offset the bleak landscapes, figurative and literal, of the lives of the characters in his poems. He could be as bleak as Auden on his worst day; Auden's clocktower addressing the lovers on the bridge has nothing on Reaney?s fetus?s macabre realization that its mother?s heart is the clock already ticking away its hours (??Dark Lagoon??). One can see Reaney?s forthrightness about cold eternal truths both softened and supported by his use of naturalistic themes; Frost would be proud, if a bit taken aback.?Some of the denser poems are the most rewarding: ??Invocation to the Muse of Satire?? is not as formally playful, but is nonetheless as emotionally rich as any of the other poems. See the aftermath of Satire invoked: ??Has no one seen the country where your cure has nursed? / It is a land of upturned privies with occupants inside them / Crawling out through new tops like astonished moths / Bursting from their unusual, foul, and dark cocoons.??? ??Reaney?s influence on Canadian poetry has not yet been recognized adequately,?? writes Bartlett in the preface. Surely, this introduction to the poet?s oeuvre will go some way towards rectifying that. The distilled essence in this volume is powerfully heady stuff; one can take additional pleasure in the fact that Reaney?s book-length poem, A Suit of Nettles, is due to be published in early 2010 by The Porcupine?s Quill.?