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Our April Author of the Month: SYLVIA LEGRIS

Monday, Apr 01, 2024 at 10:21am

Sylvia Legris was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her collection Garden Physic was chosen as one of the Best Poetry Books of the Year by The (London) Times and CBC/Radio-Canada. Her other poetry collections include The Hideous Hidden, Pneumatic Antiphonal, and Nerve Squall, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Pat Lowther Award. She lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The title of Sylvia Legris’ new melopoeic collection The Principle of Rapid Peering comes from a phrase the nineteenth-century ornithologist and field biologist Joseph Grinnell used to describe the feeding behavior of certain birds. Rather than waiting passively for food to approach them, these birds live in a continuous mode of “rapid peering.” Legris explores this rich theme of active observation through a spray of poems that together form a kind of almanac or naturalist’s notebook in verse. Here is “where nature converges with words,” as the poet walks through prairie habitats near her home in Saskatchewan, through lawless chronologies and mellifluous strophes of strobili and solstice. Moths appear frequently, as do birds and plants and larvae, all meticulously observed and documented with an oblique sense of the pandemic marking the seasons. Elements of weather, ornithology, entomology, and anatomy feed her condensed, inflective lines, making the heart bloom and the intellect dance.

Categories: Site News, Authors, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Author of the Month

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The Principle of Rapid Peering

- Sylvia Legris

Trade paperback $25.95
Reader Reward Price: $23.36

Self-seeding wind

is a wind of ever-replenishing breath.

        --from "The Walk, or The Principle of Rapid Peering" 

The title of Sylvia Legris' melopoeic collection The Principle of Rapid Peering comes from a phrase the nineteenth-century ornithologist and field biologist Joseph Grinnell used to describe the feeding behavior of certain birds. Rather than waiting passively for food to approach them, these birds live in a continuous mode of "rapid peering." Legris explores this rich theme of active observation through a spray of poems that together form a kind of almanac or naturalist's notebook in verse. Here is "where nature converges with words," as the poet walks through prairie habitats near her home in Saskatchewan, through lawless chronologies and mellifluous strophes of strobili and solstice. Moths appear frequently, as do birds and plants and larvae, all meticulously observed and documented with an oblique sense of the pandemic marking the seasons. Elements of weather, ornithology, entomology, and anatomy feed her condensed, inflective lines, making the heart bloom and the intellect dance.

The Hideous Hidden

- Sylvia Legris

Trade paperback $23.95
Reader Reward Price: $21.56

In her first full-length collection published in the United States, Sylvia Legris probes and peels, carves and cleaves, amputates and dissects, to reveal the poetic potential of human and animal anatomy.

Starting with the Greek writings of Hippocrates and the Latin language of medicine, and drawing from Leonardo da Vinci's Anatomical Manuscripts, the dermatologist Robert Willan's On Cutaneous Diseases (1808), and Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil, Legris infuses each poem with unique rhythms that roll off the tongue. The Hideous Hidden boldly celebrates anatomy's wonders: "Renounce the vestibule of non-vital vitals. / Confess the gallbladder, / the glandular wallflowers, / the objectionable oblong spleen."

Garden Physic

- Sylvia Legris

Trade paperback $25.95
Reader Reward Price: $23.36

Sylvia Legris's Garden Physic is a paean to the pleasures and delights of one of the world's most cherished pastimes: Gardening!
      "At the center of the garden the heart," she writes, "Red as any rose. Pulsing / balloon vine. Love in a puff." As if composed out of a botanical glossolalia of her own invention, Legris's poems map the garden as body and the body as garden--her words at home in the phytological and anatomical--like birds in a nest. From an imagined love-letter exchange on plants between garden designer Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson to a painting by Agnes Martin to the medicinal discourse of the first-century Greek pharmacologist Pedanius Dioscorides, Garden Physic engages with the anaphrodisiacs of language with a compressed vitality reminiscent of Louis Zukofsky's "80 Flowers." In muskeg and yard, her study of nature bursts forth with rainworm, whorl of horsetail, and fern radiation--spring beauty in the lines, a healing potion in verse.

Pneumatic Antiphonal

- Sylvia Legris

Trade paperback $16.95
Reader Reward Price: $15.26

Part of our revived "Poetry Pamphlets" series, Pneumatic Antiphonal is a fun, humming, bio-physiological word-whizzing flight into birdsong penned by young Canadian poet, Sylvia Legris -- her first publication in the U.S.

An excerpt:

The theory of corpuscular flight is the cardinal premise
of red birds carrying song-particles carrying oxygen.
Erythrocytic. Sticky. Five quarts of migration.