Shared Universe

By Paul Vermeersch
Introduction by Daniel Scott Tysdal

Shared Universe
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“An invaluable aid in this time of troubled spirits, muddled truths, and convoluted thinking. ” — Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo

Paul Vermeersch has reinvented the “new and selected. ” Bringing together the very best of his poetry from the last quarter century with new and ... Read more


Overview

 

“An invaluable aid in this time of troubled spirits, muddled truths, and convoluted thinking. ” — Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo

Paul Vermeersch has reinvented the “new and selected. ” Bringing together the very best of his poetry from the last quarter century with new and never-before-published works, Shared Universe is a sprawling chronicle of the dawn of civilizations, the riddles of 21st-century existence, and any number of glorious, or menacing, futures. Selected poetry collections are traditionally organized according to the books in which the poems first appeared, but these poems are arranged by prophecy and mythos, corresponding to the human (or trans-human) body, or as dictated by animal speech. In this universe, time is thematic instead of chronological, and space is aesthetic rather than voluminous. Here, alongside popular favourites, are recently unearthed gems and visionary new poems that reveal the books hidden within the books of one of Canada’s most distinctive and imaginative poets.

 

Paul Vermeersch

Paul Vermeersch is the author of several poetry collections, including the Trillium–award nominated The Reinvention of the Human Hand (M&S, 2010) and Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something (ECW, 2014). Vermeersch holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph for which he received the Governor General's Gold Medal. His poems have been translated into Polish, German and French and have appeared in international anthologies. He has taught creative writing at the University of Guelph and Sheridan College, and currently teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies. He was, from 2001 to 2012, the Poetry Editor for Insomniac Press, and he is now Senior Editor for Wolsak & Wynn Publishers Ltd. He lives in Toronto.

Daniel Scott Tysdal

Daniel Scott Tysdal is the author of two previous books of poetry, The Mourner's Book of Albums and Predicting the Next Big Advertising Breakthrough Using a Potentially Dangerous Method, winner of the ReLit Award for Poetry, the Anne Szumigalski Poetry Award, and the John V. Hicks Award. Tysdal's poems have also appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. His book The Writing Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating Poems was recently published by Oxford University Press. He teaches English at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Excerpt

 

SHARED UNIVERSE

 

1

 

You and the ice cream truck and the King

 

Cobra all exist in the same universe as

 

the two-legged tortoise, the Star Queen Nebula,

 

and me. Eventually, there must be a story

 

that involves all six of us: you will be driving

 

the ice cream truck among the furthest stars

 

in search of His Majesty King Cobra, despite

 

his famous venom, despite his propensity

 

to strike, and I will follow behind you riding

 

the wounded tortoise, the front wheels

 

of a plastic Batmobile glued to her shell

 

as prostheses. These are the forms we will take

 

when we encounter the Star Queen in her home,

 

the pillars of creation billowing from her head.

 

2

 

And there is King Cobra, coiling his long body

 

around the pillars, emanating from her third eye

 

as Uraeus from the forehead of a pharaoh.

 

“You have come here,” he says, “to learn

 

what you already know: that you exist

 

in the same universe as ice cream, Batmobiles 

 

and the act of mutilation. ” New stars are fusing

 

within the pillars, and within the stars, new-born

 

elements: hydrogen, beryllium, carbon, iron…

 

“Use these to make an apple,” the serpent says.

 

“Or make it out of gold, it’s all the same. ” And now

 

a blind donkey arrives behind us, and a silvery

 

porpoise, and an immense hypothetical mountain,

 

and we all nod knowingly, knowing what we know.

 

Reviews

 

“Vermeersch’s poetry is tremendously rich . . . The poems, always perceptive, sometimes achingly sad, and sometimes achingly funny — are real poems. That is, they are written with an ear for the sound of our language: for the basic iambic of English, for the drama of emotion and wit, for the richly suggestive possibilities of pun and colloquial usage. ” — The Fiddlehead

 

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