Poetry begins when the properties of things — and the correspondences among them — reveal themselves through language. Language is the veil that can pierce itself. The poems in The Properties record encounters between desire and the repressed or suppressed interstices of social, economic, political and unconscious forces. They’re alert to correspondences, attentive to the lines of force to which the poet’s family quietly assented in the contested place that is the Northwest Coast of North America.
Colin Browne is the author of Abraham (Brick Books, 1987); the critically acclaimed collection of poetry Ground Water (Talonbooks, 2002), which was nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award and a Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize; and The Shovel (Talonbooks, 2007), shortlisted for the 2008 ReLit Award. He was an editor of Writing magazine and co-founder of the Kootenay School of Writing, the Praxis Centre for Screenwriters and the Art of Documentary workshops.
“In their wide-ranging, restless yet nevertheless focused reach, Colin Browne’s poems are packed with the unexpected detail only an alert mind can record, and in their refusal to explain themselves exhilarate the reader to connect, in his or her own surprised wonder, the seen with the unseen, the familiar with the strange; generating that invisible world always behind and in words. ‘Here there’s only now,’ says one poem, ‘beyond knowing. ’ There’s a pedagogy here, and celebration—love, delight and thought their properties. ”
“Colin Browne’s books can delight you in all ways. He is erudite and he is a slangster. Again in this big new volume we happily find an alarming cohabitation of learnedness and tomfoolery. He will quote from Plato and Frank Loesser on the same page. And there is so much there … Reading silently anywhere in the book, you can feel the words on your lips, he is so attentive to them. And once you sink into reading you know that you could be here forevermore. ”
“From rhythm sticks of phrases and words, cross-cultural as well as deeply familial, Colin Browne musics together a powerful series of poems, a mnemonic for ‘lighting up the routes between worlds. ’ Recurrent war thrums in the ‘lyre’ strings of the local, even in the cables of Vancouver’s soaring bridge. These poems light up like accurate stars the “dark bight” we constantly ‘skiff’ across. The Properties is a major work from a poet writing at the peak of both outrage and love. ”
— Daphne Marlatt
“An environment of modulations, of feelings that don’t reveal themselves as nameable, sellable. Not aesthetic properties. Nothing redeeming in the destruction of cities. Not more musical to bomb an opera house than to bomb a factory. Hence: Stravinsky, Igor. Each tonal anchor only a pretext to swim into another key. Hence: Strauss, Richard. Such terrible accidents. Intersections not revelations. So much out, everything in. Crossings not consummations. What music exactly envies. Erudition
without knowingness, quality of always. Always of something discovered not told. ”