Mindful poetry in sickness and health

Keeping Watch At The End of the World By Harry Thurston $20.95, paperback, 102 pp. Gaspereau Press, April 2015

Naturalist-poet Harry Thurston’s Keeping Watch at the End of the World honours the universe around and within. His poetry stands cliff-side, looking out to sea, yet brings readers to meet horizon. Moving between life and death, past and present, age and wisdom, this collection of poetry chronicles health and illness.

With both mindfulness and heart, Thurston weighs on the significance of being present, taking stock, and paying witness. How being rooted in our self, our surroundings, and our relationships establishes and connects us to the very bone marrow of our short, and temperamental lives.

This Tidnish, Nova Scotia-based poet eases through the seasons. His poem, “Summer Reading,” prefaced by a quote from James Wright, the poem offers a reprieve from the heat. From the high season’s forgetful days, to spirited carefree ways, Thurston measures and mines the ordinary hours in beautiful paradoxes: “the read and the unread,/ the living and the dead – the said and unsaid.”

Despite being unseasonal as a summer read, Thurston’s strongest poem “Winter (In Praise of the Poet’s Wife),” echoes the erotic sentiment of Michael Ondaatje’s famous poem, “The Cinnamon Peeler.” Combining the sensual and subtle, he allows readers to linger in desire. In the poem, the speaker’s wife is just out of the shower stands bare, and the narrator is taken aback “distracted/ by the act, the unloosening.” The lines “let me fill my silence/ with something other than words” are aphrodisiacal, designed to read aloud to your lover as poetic foreplay.

Keeping Watch At The End of the World
By Harry Thurston
$20.95, paperback, 102 pp.
Gaspereau Press, April 2015

Written By

Shannon Webb-Campbell is a mixed Indigenous (Mi’kmaq) settler poet, writer, and critic. Her books include: Still No Word (Breakwater 2015), the recipient of Eagle Canada’s Out in Print Award, and I Am A Body of Land (Book*hug 2018). Shannon holds a MFA in Creative Writing from University of British Columbia, and is currently completing a MA in English Literature at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. She is the editor of Visual Arts News Magazine, and currently lives in Montreal.

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