Poetry in Motion: Barbara Pelman + A Brief and Endless Sea

What does it mean to wait? Barbara Pelman draws on Jewish traditions to explore the idea of waiting – and what it can yield – through the poems in her fourth collection, A Brief and Endless Sea (Caitlin Press). She reads a work that kicks off the collection in today’s feature.

The cover of A Brief and Endless Sea, featuring a painted seascape with pastel clouds reflected into the calm water.


Share It:

Poetry in Motion

Emerging from the lockdown in the early days of the pandemic, Barbara Pelman’s A Brief and Endless Sea draws on Jewish traditions and spirituality to poetically explore the gifts and possibilities of moments spent waiting.

Along the way, Pelman escorts us through challenging life scenarios, including the dissolution of a marriage and the responsibilities of caring for a parent with dementia. But she doesn’t leave us stranded in difficulties. Using the power of words to map a route out, A Brief and Endless Sea pulls us toward life in all of its vibrant details—the simple beauty of a small garden of tomatoes and roses, the pleasures of teaching poetry, long walks with a grandson, and encounters with spirituality. For Pelman, solace resides in the act of crafting a poem and in cherishing the “smallest life you can love.” Much like the glosa form she frequently employs, the minuscule undergoes a transformation into something grand and all-encompassing.

In A Brief and Endless Sea, the commonplace transcends into the extraordinary, while the act of waiting itself becomes a fertile ground for nurturing hope and embracing boundless possibilities.

* * *

Barbara Pelman has an MA in Literature from the University of Toronto, and lives in Victoria, BC. She has taught high school and university English courses for three decades and is now retired. In addition to her recently published collection, A Brief and Endless Sea (Caitlin Press, 2023), she has three books of poetry: One Stone (Ekstasis Editions, 2005), Borrowed Rooms (Ronsdale Press, 2008) and Narrow Bridge (Ronsdale Press, 2017), and a chapbook, Aubade Amalfi (Rubicon Press, 2016). Many of her poems have been published in literary journals and anthologies, and her glosa, “Nevertheless,” won the Malahat Review Poetry Contest in 2018. She is an active member of Victoria’s vibrant poetry community, assisting at Planet Earth Poetry and conducting workshops. She is also a frequent traveller to Vancouver to visit her mother, and her daughter and grandson.

* * *

For more Poetry in Motion, click here.