Poetry in Motion: Jesse Patrick Ferguson & Mr. Sapiens

November 10, 2014

In his third full-length collection, poet and musician Jesse Patrick Ferguson once again “puts a keen sense of perception into verbal flight” (Roger Knox, The Malahat Review). With a poet’s eye and a folksinger’s voice, Ferguson makes magic out of the commonplace.

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MrSapiens

In his third full-length collection, poet and musician Jesse Patrick Ferguson once again “puts a keen sense of perception into verbal flight” (Roger Knox, The Malahat Review). With a poet’s eye and a folksinger’s voice, Ferguson makes magic out of the commonplace.

Mr. Sapiens (Wolsak & Wynn, 2014) is a diverse collection – in form, subject matter, voice, and mood. The poetic speakers are often conflicted, alternately expressing wonder and revulsion at the world around them – the world around us. Whether lamenting a fighter pilot’s redundancy in the face of unmanned drones or celebrating (sort of) the arrival of spring, Ferguson renders the tiniest, most ordinary details in surprising, extraordinary language.

The poems in Mr. Sapiens play with rhythm and rhyme, engaging sound in sly, subtle ways. Ferguson delights in the cadence of language as perhaps only a musician can. That delight may also result from a return to linguistically driven poetry after his last collection, Dirty Semiotics (Broken Jaw Press, 2011), which consisted entirely of visual poetry. One has only to read the opening lines of the opening poem to experience this delight for themselves:

        Fatigued, he bides there, glum, in the desert
        Tim Hortons simulacrum, that mirage of home
        dragged out the tail end of a C-130 Hercules
        and opened for business.
        (from “For the Fighter Pilot Made Redundant by Unmanned Drones”)

Having begun his creative career as a folksinger and singer-songwriter, Ferguson is the consummate performer. Just as he strives in his musical performances to make traditional songs relevant to a modern audience, so, too, does Ferguson use standard poetic forms and common English words to render everyday objects anew for the reader. This is especially apparent when he reads his poems aloud, turning readers into listeners akin to those at his musical performances – swept along by the beat, simultaneously lulled by the familiarity of the underlying tune and enthralled by the variations that enliven and make it fresh to the ear.

Listen to Jesse read from three of the poems found in Mr. Sapiens:
 
"For the Fighter Pilot Made Redundant by Unmanned Drones"
            
"Boots on the Ground"

"Mr. Sapiens" 
 

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Ferguson_Selfie

Ferguson recently returned to his hometown of Cornwall, Ontario, after years in the Atlantic provinces. A talented musician, he plays myriad instruments, from the standard guitar to the somewhat exotic bodhran to the completely unusual glockenspiel. He writes and performs original music, as well as playing songs from the folk, Celtic, and classic rock traditions.

(and he takes a pretty good selfie, too!)

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Thanks Jesse and Wolsak & Wynn for sharing Mr. Sapiens with us!

 

 

 


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