John Stokes’ Horse
By Peter Sanger
One of the great privileges of running a literary publishing house is that of working with particular writers over time, helping them to shape their voice and vision and to foster a readership. One such writer intrinsically associated with Gaspereau Press is the poet and essayist ... Read more
One of the great privileges of running a literary publishing house is that of working with particular writers over time, helping them to shape their voice and vision and to foster a readership. One such writer intrinsically associated with Gaspereau Press is the poet and essayist Peter Sanger. Building on the themes of his 2006 collection Aiken Drum, Sanger’s new volume of poems takes its title from the subject of an engraving by Newfoundland printmaker David Blackwooda simple wooden horse carved by a Cape Freels man in 1907 as a gift for his grandson. In the figure of John Stokes’ horse, Sanger locates an imaginative gesture requiring the suspension of disbelief, for child and adult alikea winged mount into a world where myth and memory mix. Looking at language, memory and art through the lens of language presents the very sort of riddle on which Sanger’s poetics thrive. As well as the title sequence, the book features a section composed of object poems (“Fishing for Jade”) generally expressing a preoccupation with lightshadows and reflections, signals, moon, waterand a more topical section (“Civics”) which assails the present state of public discourse in a tone and cadence reminiscent of T. S. Eliot’s great modernist poem, The Waste Land. The book also includes a short essay (“Leaping Time”) which combines memories, childhood books and equine lore to provide a sort of mirror to John Stokes’ horse. These poems evoke, in Sanger’s words, “imagination’s creative energy, immanent in time and yet timeless, evidence of love, devotion and patience, evidence that by seeing art through its eyes we see more clearly through our own. ”
Peter Sanger chose Nova Scotia as his home more than 30 years ago, after ranging far and wide. He lives in a period farmhouse in a rural community. His first book of poetry was published in 1983. He currently teaches English at the Nova Scotia College of Agriculture.