The Shell of the Tortoise

By Don McKay

The Shell of the Tortoise
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Don McKay is back from another geopoetic field season and has typed up his notes. The resulting essays continue his investigation into the relationship between poetry and wilderness, particularly into the characteristics of metaphor as a tool. “Art occurs whenever a tool attempts ... Read more


Overview

Don McKay is back from another geopoetic field season and has typed up his notes. The resulting essays continue his investigation into the relationship between poetry and wilderness, particularly into the characteristics of metaphor as a tool. “Art occurs whenever a tool attempts to metamorphose into an animal” asserts McKay in an essay on the myth of Hermes and his tortoise-shell lyre. He also takes us to the fossil beds of Newfoundland’s Mistaken Point to consider the fault line between scientific rigour and the poetic capacity for astonishment; over a buggy, boggy portage with Duncan Campbell Scott, surveying Canadian poetry’s complex relationship with wilderness; to the imagined film set of From Here to Infinity to reflect on metaphor’s success in communicating the vastness of deep time, vastness which raw data fails to transmit; and into the Muskwa Assemblage, a poetic landscape which models his assertion that “In poetry, there is no ‘been there, done that’; everything is wilderness. ”

 

Don McKay

Don McKay has published numerous books of poetry and several books of essays. The poetry has been recognized with a number of awards, including two Governor General’s Awards and the Griffin Poetry Prize. His most recent book of essays, The Shell of the Tortoise, received the Winterset Prize for Excellence in Newfoundland and Labrador Writing for 2011. Paradoxides, his most recent book of poems, winner of the E.J. Pratt Prize for Poetry, includes meditations on geology and deep time, while pursuing ongoing obsessions with birds and tools. He lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

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