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Wanting the Day

Wanting the Day

Since the late 1980s, Bartlett has become one of Canada's leading poets, and the time is ripe for volume of his best work. For Wanting the Day: Selected Poems, he has chosen the most dramatic poems from six earlier volumes. From the beginning of his career, Brian Bartlett's poetry has been refined and sensual, far-reaching and grounded.

In this new collection, Bartlett's vision is distilled, and new combinations throw the insights of three decades into high relief. With a passion for the physical rooted in the spiritual, his poems combine seemingly discordant ideas and facts with emotion in a minimum of narrative space. Whether writing about a jazz drummer or a foot-doctor, a run-down hotel or an Adirondack mountain, his gift for language and insight brings into the reader's consciousness visions never before seen, thoughts and feelings never before recognized.

Favourites in the collection include "Cousin Gifts," a small-scale, large-spirited Christmas poem; the sequence "Underwater Carpentry," winner of a Malahat Review Long Poem prize; and "Foot-doctor for the Homeless," winner of the Petra Kenney Award competition. Wanting the Day has been published simultaneously in the UK by Peterloo Poets Society.


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).

"The poems that make up Brian Bartlett's Wanting the Day move carefully through the physical landscape with a gentle prosaic determination. The diction feels carefully selected for reflective precision, building up trustworthy moments of intimacy with nature through straightforward linear telling. The poems record pleasant scenes of quiet, personal wonder, or poignant observations of intriguing detail." — Canadian Literature

"In each [poem] there are echoes of the passionate worldview and joy in language and joy in language found in the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Bartlett is a poet of, in, and with the natural world, humanity included and something of a mystic. Thirty years of writing poetry have their summary here ... The book holds many treasures." — Arc Poetry Magazine

128 pages
Pub date: September 8, 2003