USEREVIEW 046 (Capsule): Blood Rises
Blood Rises (Guernica Editions, 2020)
ISBN 978-1-77183-538-1 | 144 pp | $20 CAD
Blood Rises is an apt title for the latest poetry collection from longtime figure in the literary scene, David Haskins. These poems are rich in lifeblood — the substance that rises to the skin at the sight of injustice, that brightens the cheek during unstoppable laughter, that pulses on insistently in the face of death and grief. The emotional tenor of these poems is equally varied, even between stanzas. In ‘How to Write a Canadian Poem,’ Haskins opens with waggish suggestions like “Talk of poison ivy and first love in the same breath,” but the jocularity turns unexpectedly wry and grim: “Put in something to kill: a moose in the headlights, a bear […] a culture, the planet, god.” It is a turn that jolts the reader, calling them to consider what other kinds of violence may be layered beneath quaint Canadian stereotypes. Haskins carries such tonal vacillations with a deliberate and practised voice, both in this poem and throughout the collection, his aptitude for literary craft offering an aesthetic equanimity that clearly marks these varied pieces as his own. Read Blood Rises if you want to be shown how fully a person can manifest their life in poetry after decades of discipline.
Read ‘A Tinge of Blue’ (pp. 116–117), a brief lyric about the death of Haskins’ life partner, if you need to cry.