Helsinki Drift

Overview

Actress Mae West once said "I’ve been things and seen places." Poet Douglas Burnet Smith might well be able to lay claim to the same boast. In his latest collection of verse he takes the reader on a kaleidoscopic journey through Amsterdam’s antique streets and canals, Tuscany’s sun-soaked landscapes, Paris’s Gallic gabble of monuments and madcaps, and the title poem’s Finnish auditory and aural delights. In one poem we play Scrabble with Dadaist Tristan Tzara. In another work, "Sophia," we encounter "the mangy wisdom of wild dogs on every street,/skulking, pawing rabid piles of garbage/choking gutters, begging at the front doors of restaurants/like reeducated ideologues." In still another verse the poet’s persona contemplates Italian artist Giotto in Colorado, citing "the copper hogbacks" in which "he sees layered/trecento shale-engraved depictions of Egypt and the Exodus." And everywhere his Muse takes him, Smith injects his stopovers with fresh perspectives, lending credence to seventeenth- century English essayist Sir Thomas Browne’s dictum: "Ready to be anything in the ecstasy of being ever."

About the Author

Douglas Burnet Smith

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Douglas Burnet Smith

Douglas Burnet Smith is the author of ten previous volumes of poetry. His most recent book is The Killed (Wolsak & Wynn). He has been nominated for the Governor General's Award and has won numerous prizes for his writing, including The Malahat Review's Long Poem Prize. Currently he divides his time between Paris, France, and Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he teaches at St. Francis Xavier University.