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The Watchmaker's Table
The Watchmaker's Table

The Watchmaker's Table

In his most personal collection to date, Brian Bartlett meditates upon time and family. We share his son's discovery of newborn spiders and his daughter's first grasp of infinity as a concept. In companion poems on the births of his mother and father, Bartlett makes you feel as if you were alive at those moments in history. The opening poem, "All the Train Trips," displays an uncanny sense of homes and families lost and the casual friendships struck up in conversations in the "bar car." "Pearly Everlasting" expresses a longing to register the world in the body through the naming of flowers.

Books and the history of poetry shape time for Bartlett, whether in found poems woven from the words of books inherited from ancestors or in the words of great poets that, despite the distance, convey a shared sense of humanity. Wrestling with time as if he were both Jacob and the angel, Bartlett speaks both for time's dominion and for human mutability.


A professor of literature and creative writing at St. Mary's University, Brian Bartlett (1953) won the 2000 Petra Kenney Poetry Competition. In 1997 he won the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize for the second time. He was born and raised in New Brunswick, and as an undergraduate at the University of New Brunswick, he was part of the circle of writers who gathered at "Windsor Castle," Alden Nowlan's home. Bartlett is the editor of Don MacKay: Essays on His Work (2003).

"A series of inventive, subtle and deeply cutting speculations on the passage of time." — Carmine Stamino

136 pages
Pub date: March 14, 2008