Some books are best read in a certain season. The cold of winter seems a good time to read about Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, plow through Dostoevsky or take another crack at Proust.
I read the gorgeous book Wide Slumber For Lepidopterists just as summer decided to stay. Leaves are on the trees and insects are coming back to life. Reading a.rawling’s book of poems in summer is ideal timing. They evoke the wild beauty of Northern Ontario, to which this book is dedicated, a place where both a.rawlings and myself grew up. I can hear the wildlife of Lake Shebandewon when I look at the lovely “a hoosh a ha” that begins the book. One cannot help but hear echoes, not only of loons and butterflies but also of bp nichol, a giant of Canadian poetics. a.rawlings’s poems celebrate the natural beauty of the Canadian north and are also connected to the fine tradition of Canadian poetry without being dull or derivative.
Coach House has done a wonderful job with the design and Matt Ceolin’s art is a fine addition. Many books of poems are released each year, and even fans of the form will admit that most are mediocre, but Wide Slumber For Lepidopterists is a feast for the senses. Pick it up and flip through it without reading a word-look at the shape of rawlings’s words on the page and Ceolin’s art, and you will agree that this book is a worthy purchase. In a few weeks I will be visiting Northwestern Ontario and when I hear the “a hoosh a ha” of those wild spaces (and when I see my first butterfly of the season) I will think of this lovely book. (Vincent Ponka)
by a.rawlings, $16.95, 109 pgs, 401 Huron St. (rear) on bp Nichol Lane, Toronto, ON, M5S 2G5, chbooks.com