Autumn, publishing season. John’s new book arrived the other day. Forecast:Selected Early Poems (1970-1990), published by Harbour Publishing. It gathers together the work he published in chapbooks and small books now out of print. Harbour did a lovely job of production. When Anna Comfort O’Keefe was designing the cover, she and John exchanged ideas, various images, and came up with something I think is really interesting. (I took this photograph in the sunroom with today’s sunlight dappling the book.)
The front cover shows a window opening, newly-framed. Looking out, you see trees (the trees out our windows), a full moon that provides the “O” in the book’s title. And the back cover shows the same window opening several decades later but you’re looking in, the trees reflected in the old glass. That’s our blue window, the one in our dining area. And the book’s trajectory covers a similar span of years.
I know these poems so well. There are some from books published before I met John in 1979 and in fact I’d read some of them before I knew him. “The Crossing” is one of my favourites, from Port of Entry. Its preoccupations — place, how we find ourselves a place and how we write into it and out of it — forecast much of our life together. Here are the final lines:
not until arrival does the journey
focus. but that is late and looking
back distorts the purpose
we cannot hold our coming through the world