Harbour Publishing, I’m excited to report, will release my new collection of poems in spring 2020. The book is called Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back: Poems for a Dark Time. The poems arise, as the subtitle suggests, out of how the 21st Century feels so far: tainted by lack of empathy, unashamed lying by officials, pursuit of personal gain at the expense of family, community and the natural environment, and the pitting of groups of citizens against each other.
The title is taken from a line by Santa Cruz, California, poet Joseph Stroud, whom I write about in a blog connected to the June 2019 issue of Poetry. A poem in the new collection which uses his line as an epigraph, “O Calgary,” first appeared in that issue.
Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back contains three sections: besides one on poems specifically about the world gone awry, a section of elegies brings, I hope, the perspectives of age and mortality to our current troubled existence—at the least reminding us that we’ve faced perilous social developments before. The final section considers the consolations and challenges of the written word, including grappling with why anyone, given the times we are mired in, might want to make art.