new from above/ground press: Into the Blind World, by Barry McKinnon
Into the Blind World
by Barry McKinnon
into the blind world
the new life the essential tremor /refusal
I see in a double
space conjunction & irony, that part blind Im made
to see. it is not Dantes forest exactly. More
so a sense
/a kind of open door
is beginning /closing dark turning
- light I didnt expect.
old flesh renews, that the dim
eye makes almost nothing matter. looks to
what I find ahead.
I believe -
me speaking, or all would cease to be. so I spoke & the forest flew by
& city lights distorted the cold stars of love and dark the
beginning, a journey, a descent
the ghost of myself still
to address the infected world, to stall & cease advance, to the forest
sad desire/ without a mask
to journey solely at night dark to the armies
circling themselves the forest of knives
invisible to those who never make it
desire: one heart to pull
the other retract - that the gap maintains its depth & distance
to hell the hidden road & the river one dares
This poem/fragment is based on a selection of lines sent to me by
Arianwen Goronwy Roberts, a young student, poet, and artist who I jokingly
referred to as Virgil one night when she soberly drove me home after a
drunken literary event in the fall of 2009. I got Arianwen curious to read
Dantes Divine Comedy & at some other drunken literary event asked her to
send me the Dante lines or sections that she liked or stood out for
whatever reason. This she did from an on-line translation
(http://www.readprint.cm/work -7/inferno-dante-alighieri: The Divine
Comedy: Hell - no translator given). Within those stanzas, verses, and
narrative fragments I could see certain words/phrasings and images that
prompted my own translation and improvised responses.
Ive made no dramatic attempt to describe sinners being dipped upside
down in hot tar or include any of the other dark & menacing monsters
contained in Dantes hell - or developed the relationship between Dante and
Virgil, his poet/guide through hell. Instead, I took only words, phrases
or images from Arianwens choices that I could then reconfigure without, I
decided, any presumption to condense the narrative in Book One, or make
any literal reference to snakes, lizards, and lions etc. (though somehow a
lone fox trotted in).
The ending does not wholly contain the sanguine possibility Dante
recognized in Canto xxxiv a return to the bright world- to look once more
upon the stars. More so, I believe it when the poet Robert Creeley writes
- the darkness surrounds us - yet within it we must live and experience
whatever range we are given or decide.
When the writing stalled, I also took lines/ideas from Arianwens poem
the forest of knives image, Mateusz Patrykas poem for his line the ghost
of myself, Cecil Giscombes email - these days the sisters incoherent,
unrequited, incomplete and Robert Creeleys line happy in hell sources
that kept me going for awhile longer on the hidden road.
Otherwise, all else is missing.
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy
Barry McKinnon was born in 1944 in Calgary Alberta, where he grew up. In
1965, after two years at Mount Royal College, he went to Sir George
Williams University in Montreal and took poetry courses with Irving
Layton. He graduated in 1967 with a B.A. degree. In 1969, he graduated
with an M.A. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and was
hired that same year to teach English at the College of New Caledonia in
Prince George where he has lived and worked ever since.
Barry McKinnons The the was nominated for the Governor Generals Award for
poetry in 1080. Pulp Log was the winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry
Award for the B.C. Book Prizes in 1991 and Arrhythmia was the winner of
the bpNichol Chapbook Award for the best chapbook published in Canada in
English in 1994. His chapbook Surety Disappears was the runner-up for the
bpNichol Award in 2008.
His most recent trade collections include In the Millennium (Vancouver:
New Star, 2009) and The Centre: Poems 1970-2000 (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2004).
Barry McKinnon reads in Ottawa on Sunday, March 4, 2012 with Paige
Ackerson-Kiely as part of Ottawas second annual VERSeFest poetry festival.
To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; outside Canada, add $2) to:
rob mclennan, 402 McLeod St #3, Ottawa ON K2P 1A6 or paypal at