Author: Allan Briesmaster
Flowing from multiple streams, the poems in Confluences are Allan Briesmaster’s most wide-ranging and artistically adventurous work yet. The first of the book’s four contrasting parts gives poetic reflections on what has come down to us from ancient times, including the insights of pre-Socratic philosophers such as Thales and Heraclitus. The second, “Impress of Waters,” features diverse encounters with the Canadian eco-scape; while in the third section, a fierce intelligence takes a stern view of climate change and other matters ranging from the anatomy of human emotion to the first moon landing 40 years after. In the final section, the creations of eminent writers like Rilke, Alberti, Bonnefoy, and Jaccottet are confronted and drawn from: in a variety of adaptations and homages treating such familiar subjects as friendship, love, and aging in unconventional ways. All of the poems are distinguished by sensuously layered language, virtuosity in form and style, and a questing spirit, both passionate and philosophical.
What Fraser Sutherland noted in the Globe and Mail about Interstellar applies equally to Confluences: “Briesmaster’s great theme [is] the collaboration of the physical and the metaphysical. … Birdwatching, stargazing and hill-climbing, even looking at paintings and photographs, are for him occasions of wonder and awe.” Russell Thornton has observed in Allan’s work “many highly crafted triumphs of thought and feeling” and “many unusually artful contemplations and enactments of our place within the natural world of the Earth and within the incomprehensibles of the worlds beyond.” And Karen Connelly writes that this work “often takes the reader higher and farther away from the literal world, this earth, than most writers ever attempt,” and that “This poet has turned his face to the universe, the complexly human and the vividly non-human world, and has created a fresh music to describe what he sees, and thinks, and feels.”