Beginning with an autobiographical account of the mind, Jeffery Donaldson's marvellous new collection moves from personal history to national history, concluding with "Province House," where the ghost of Sir John A. Macdonald has the last word on metaphor.
In his fourth collection, Donaldson moves deftly between the incisive short lyric and the extended meditation, oscillating between detachment and engagement. In "Torso," Donaldson considers the headless sculpture of Apollo, both chiselled rock and the changeling child of multiple observers. In a series of poems written from the vantage point of a hockey puck, the elements of a hockey game — the face-off, defensemen, play-by-play, referee, linesmen, clock, and net minder — twist in the fascinating funhouse mirror in the depths of Donaldson's personal Platonic cave.
Donaldson's poems reveal a mind at once conversant with the literary deities and the subtleties of the everyday. Profoundly graceful in its recognition of the poetic heritage of others, Guesswork confirms that Donaldson is a poet whose craftsmanship, whose supple syntax and unerring sense of rhythm, are anything but guesswork.
"Guesswork's hockey poems suggest a tense symphony of movement, speed, and grace punctuated by a lingering violence, a mind on sharpest edge. All jersey-bundled, they nearly obscure a muscular attention to form, technique, and craft that flexes and strains just beneath metaphor's protective veneer." — Matt Robinson
"Whether riffing on Rilke's Apollo, addressing an unlikely twin, or recalling a local magician, Donaldson writes with imaginative flare, ever-allusive language, and rare rhythmical skill. How lucky we are to witness the arrival of such poetry." — Brian Bartlett
Pub date: February 25, 2011