Brilliant Falls

By John Terpstra

Brilliant Falls
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John Terpstra has always had a penchant for juxtaposition, for the fault lines where two seemingly opposing truths rub together and make a sort of music. Brilliant Falls, Terpstra’s latest poetry collection, often locates these juxtapositions in the transitions of family life. ... Read more


Overview

John Terpstra has always had a penchant for juxtaposition, for the fault lines where two seemingly opposing truths rub together and make a sort of music. Brilliant Falls, Terpstra’s latest poetry collection, often locates these juxtapositions in the transitions of family life. In one poem, a teenaged daughter has a close scrape while practice-driving, learning “the fact of our fragile enormity upon the landscape. ” Terpstra’s sense of life’s fragility and enormity fuels much of this collection, and is especially poignant in those poems dealing with the subject of aging and dying. “There are poems that cut pretty close to the bone,” writes Terpstra, “in terms of my own need to express the difficult and complicated emotions that prompted them. ” Yet this collection resists any prolonged wallowing in grief as Terpstra writes his way toward relief, imagining off-beat scenarios where he’s street racing with the Queen of England, encountering Sitting Bull in the form of a crow on a Saskatchewan highway, or being interrogated by Saint Peter in Heaven’s immigration queue. Throughout, Terpstra’s skill for evoking a mood through the sound of his language and the pacing of his expansive narrative style reminds us that poetry is, at the end of the day, essentially an act of exploration and of faith in which: “we still leap aboard, to feel if it shifts / or moves us, trusting and not trusting, / not willing and willing / the rock to roll on. ”

Winner of the 2015 Hamilton Arts Council Literary Award for Poetry and shortlisted for the 2014 Raymond Souster Award.

 

John Terpstra

Since the early 1980s, John Terpstra has been a mainstay of the Canadian literary scene, publishing both poetry and non-fiction. He has also been a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Charles Taylor Prize. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where he works as a writer, cabinetmaker and carpenter.

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