Kinds of Dads: A Poetic Retrospective for Father’s Day

June 16, 2017

You may know us best as poetry-lovin’ folks here on All Lit Up, so we’re viewing this year’s Father’s Day through poetry-coloured glasses: we’ve rounded up three books from poets/children who each remember and honour their fathers in their collections, as well as a snippet of poetry from each that you can share with your own dad, below.

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You may know us best as  poetry-lovin’ folks here on All Lit Up, so we’re viewing this year’s Father’s Day through poetry-coloured glasses: we’ve rounded up three books from poets/children who each remember and honour their fathers in their collections, as well as a snippet of poetry from each that you can share with your own dad, below.

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The formidable dad:

mydinosaur

As “the father” plays a key element in Québécoise literature, so too does he in François Turcot’s My Dinosaur (BookThug), an elegiac collection of the poet’s excavation of the bones of his father’s life, and the gap between it and his own. Erin Moure’s translation pays tribute to all of Turcot’s turns of voice but, as what she calls a “poesis”, also factors in her own readings of the words and own experiences of losing her father.

 

It’d all dissolve: the silence of his habits, the collisions of his hand, his lost ring, the gravel of his voice, the rage of expression.

Warmed up, March would drain his every archive.

 

 

The literary-inclined dad:

fathersashes

The recent Alberta Literary Award winner for poetry, Richard Harrison’s collection On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood (Wolsak & Wynn) sits where the 2013 Calgary flood and the poet’s memories of his father meet: namely when the former threatened to carry off much of the latter. Harrison’s reminisces of his father’s final years suffering dementia are juxtaposed with his iron-clad memory of the poetry (and love thereof) he’d passed down.

 

At the news of my father’s ashes lost to the water,
my neighbours winced like something wild
had eaten a pet they’d all fed from their hands. 

But a friend from Poland thought it was hilarious,
and so did I – we both come from a long line of cannon fodder.

Dad would’ve laughed, too. I’d kept his ashes
because nothing I’d thought to do with them was right…

 

 

The sea-faring father:

albatross

Unlike the other collections listed here where the text describes the father-child relationship, the text in Sandy Shreve’s Waiting for the Albatross (Oolichan Books) denotes an intimacy of shared language. Shreve’s father, Jack, kept a diary as a freighter deckhand in the 1930s, and Shreve constructs her father’s words into poetry that’s joyful, introspective, and honest. Accompanying the text are Jack’s photographs and Shreve’s research, which flesh out her father’s candid diary entries.

 

I wonder what's going on in the world to-day.
The "storm petrels" I saw yesterday lived up to their name
and we're rolling all over the ocean. 

We got that damned rice for desert, and stewed prunes
but the officers got apple dumplings and fancy biscuits.
I wonder what's going on in the world to-day.

In the water alongside us, a huge shark was rolling back
and forth and every once in a while turned belly up
as we rolled over the ocean.

 

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We’ve got more dad where this came from: check out our list of man books for Father’s Day or hear us gush about how much we love our dads here on ALU


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