Broken Dawn Blessings

By Adam Sol

Broken Dawn Blessings
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Trillium Book Award–winning poet Adam Sol’s newest collection is made up of poems that are loosely linked to the traditional Jewish morning prayers, the Birkhot haShachar, which try to find moments of blessing in the midst of personal and public pain, shame, and worry

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Overview

 

Trillium Book Award–winning poet Adam Sol’s newest collection is made up of poems that are loosely linked to the traditional Jewish morning prayers, the Birkhot haShachar, which try to find moments of blessing in the midst of personal and public pain, shame, and worry

How do we respond to others’ pain, both the pain of those we love and the larger global pain of those we don’t know? In a religious context, a witness can offer blessing when those in the midst of suffering cannot. Taking on the responsibility of blessing, then, is a way to shoulder that burden for the sufferer. This presupposes the idea that blessing is a necessity — which may be a point up for debate.

In the context of his wife’s recovery from surgery, and with civic violence prevalent in his city, the speaker of these poems leans on the structure of the Birkhot haShachar (dawn blessings) to carve out space for empathy, complaint, and occasional flashes of wonder. These poems showcase Sol’s trademark blend of humor and lyric virtuosity, and display his familiarity with Jewish texts and traditions, but add a new intimacy and urgency that break new ground for one of Canada’s most respected poets. It is his most risky and most accomplished collection to date.

 

Adam Sol

 

Adam Sol has published four previous books of poetry, and one collection of essays, How a Poem Moves: A Field Guide for Readers of Poetry. He is the Coordinator of the Creative Expression & Society Program at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College. He lives in Toronto, Ontario

 

Excerpt

 

Frees the Captive

מתיר עסורים…

A gypsy moth flutters my cup
of reconstituted orange drink.

Last night a raccoon was flattened
by a patrolling armored personnel carrier.
One of us is going to have to spatula
the carcass into a dumpster
that isn’t burning.

The scan revealed
only that she has
a long repair horizon.

It’s true the lyric is merely
an instrument of escape
like a shiv filed
from a plastic spork.

On my deaf neighbor’s land,
the cubs are screaming in a tree.

 

Awards

  • Raymond Souster Award 2022, Short-listed

Reviews

 

“This vulnerable, heartbreaking, witty, kind, sometimes angry, and always honest book masterfully and generously intertwines private and public concerns. As his beloved ‘drifts from room to room,’ recovering from cancer surgery, the speaker goes deeper into his own mind, to find poems that do the necessary work of clarifying our complexities. This book is a treasure for all of us as we struggle and love. ” — Matthew Zapruder, author of Why Poetry and Father’s Day

“In your hand is a manifest of wrecked words haunting a city’s fratricidal concerns. What is true of impermanence and grief in these dawns are lucid doors that aim to breach the need of a world wrinkled by violence and fear. But, also, here is awe. ” — Canisia Lubrin, winner of the Windham Campbell and Griffin Poetry Prizes and author of The Dyzgraphxst

“Through the framework of a beloved’s illness and a city’s violence, these poems meet head-on forces both private and public that threaten vitality and well-being. They are offerings at the doorway of pain, insights of ferocious tenderness given with committed attention to the extraordinary and the everyday. Deeply felt and rendered with care, Adam Sol’s poem-blessings are honest, risky, and necessary. ” — Raymond Souster Award shortlist announcement

 

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