Virtuosic poems tracking two intertwined themes: the breakdown of an obsessive love affair and the vicissitudes of middle age. Invisible Dogs, Dempster's fourteenth collection, is a complex but deeply coherent hymn to the difficult business of staying alive. This is a book for when it hurts so bad you hope you'll die and are afraid you won't—not because it offers consolation or the promise of a new dawn, but because it so compellingly documents the plain, hard, ungraceful, stumbling grief of the matter, and meets it with rare self-knowledge, wry humour, and an unornamented determination to go on living. Dempster's metaphors are like hairpin turns taken at breakneck speed. He has nerves of steel when it comes to self-examination, and it's this relentless honesty and the emotional torque it induces that keep the voice on the road.
Barry Dempster was born in Toronto, Ontario, and educated in child psychology. He is the author of a novel, children's literature and over a dozen collections of poetry. His work has been nominated for the Governor General's Award twice and won the Canadian Authors Association Chalmers Award for poetry. From 1990 to 1997, he was the Poetry and Reviews Editor for Poetry Canada. He is currently the senior editor with Brick Books. He has been on the faculty at The Banff Centre as mentor for the Writing Studio, Wired Writing and Writing with Style programs, has conducted two master classes and has been the Writer-in-Residence at the Richmond Hill Public Library twice.
Praise for The Burning Alphabet:'Few if any poets encompass the range, the dynamism, and the spectrum of emotional colours Barry Dempster does. The Burning Alphabet bravely tackles such potentially demoralizing matters as chronic illness, the chasm between father and son, suburbia, and the gross derangements of our society with a combination of tender rambunctiousness, broad deep humour, and a fervent zest for the possibilities of language and for re-imagining life's bewilderments that's unparalleled. Barry Dempster creates word music that is both delightfully insightful and memorable. '– Canadian Authors' Association Chalmers Award Judges'For over two decades I've marveled at Barry Dempster's poetry, at his generous and wide-reaching spirit. A spirit that makes his poems crackle with innovational energy. He delves deeply into both himself and the world, to bring forth his singular voice, so rich with insights and cadences. His vivid relationship with language is infused by a sensibility and perceptiveness which makes his work shimmer with the musicality of existence itself. He is simply one of the best poets we have and The Burning Alphabet will add greatly to is already distinguished reputation. '– Don DomanskiPraise for Love Outlandish:In Love Outlandish, Barry Dempster presents love in many shapes from shifting angles, then collates the results, from the passionate and the faithful to the obsessive and off-beat. I was struck by both the steadfastness of theme and the unifying style and voice, revealing a speaker of wry humour, capable of self-irony in his pursuit of the truth at whatever cost. Love Outlandish may be Dempster's best collection to date, both in terms of its thematic integrity and as a cumulative intensifying of its poet's perspective on love. – Gillian Harding-Russell, Prairie Fire
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