• fluttertongue 4: adagio for the pressured surround

fluttertongue 4: adagio for the pressured surround

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978-1-897126-12-7 | 2007 April | 128 Pages


fluttertongue 4: adagio for the pressured surround is poetry at its most eloquent. In this long poem, Smith imagistically evokes birds and plants, physical torture, and human relationships as he delves into the meaning of words and ponders language itself. In this sometimes personal, sometimes documentary, work Smith references a wide range of subjects, including science, fishing, and other poets and artists — Canadian and international. Themes that run throughout the book include death, food, and Smith’s relationships with his father and his son. This sometimes dark, sometimes humorous, poetic work explores the possibilities and nuances of language, and seeks to find a form of expression outside of free verse and prose, with a meditative pace. Smith’s tendency to dart in and out of ideas and concepts is delicately balanced by echoes and recurrences, and his quest to explore and expand, for himself, the possibilities of poetry.

adagio for the pressured surround is yet another vector of the long-poem poetics of Steven Ross Smith’s fluttertongue series. Here the poetry is a percussion of the minute and particular instances of language that register the face of composition; beats and riffs punctuate the syllables into trajectories of surprise and astonishment, flutterings that concatenate into the residue of pure space . . . These words are on a roll!”
~ Fred Wah, author of Diamond Grill

“Here find your ears tugged by the tough tongues of one who—between son & father—between illness & torture—on an I-land far west—questions ownership ‘(my)’ & isolation—by waiting ‘before music or after it’. Find a reverent, epigraphic, singular chorus that leaves trails (in the old sense of strobe), a healing tumble toward shine of the wide nouns & wild pronouns we trust & claim too passively—a meditative, concessional poetry—a live-alogue, much needed.”
~ Phil Hall, author of An Oak Hunch

“The mood is elegiac—though there are moments of rapt attention, bliss—as over and over the poet tests the ‘pressured surround,’ the ‘dizzy surround,’ of language and its limits in conveying beauty and suffering. What I so admire about this wandering (wondering) poem is its humility: ‘hesitant and sinuous,’ it explores its own limitations, the ‘wound’ at the heart of language and being—the wound from which poetry sings.”
~ Hilary Clark, author of The Dwelling of Weather