A pre-Marrow Reviews reprint: “What holds you here”: Steven Heighton’s Patient Frame (Anansi, 2010)

How wonderful to read such an insightful review of this poet and his work…so often I think of Heighton as one of Canada’s truly unsung poetic heroes and would really like to see that changed…Owen’s review leads me to think there are more readers than just me that might feel something along these lines.

Marrow Reviews by Catherine Owen


Books of Canadian poetry are often thematically structured or, if miscellanies, tend to adhere to fairly narrow ranges of subject matter: domesticity & family, work, personal tales of love & grieving. There seems to be a fear of political and historical material, especially when combined with more intimate poems within a single volume; it’s as if not only are poets afraid of sinking into the polemical but that they worry about simplifying and streamlining content in order to make their texts more accessible to the reader, and perhaps more marketable, at least in theory, for the publisher.

Steven Heighton doesn’t appear to concern himself with either source of anxiety and Canadian poetry is better for his form of lyrical courage. The writer of substance educates their reader, draws them into a fascination with subject matter they may never have previously considered compelling and does so with and through language…

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To have a copy for myself…


S.E. Ingraham (Sharon) is yet another of the very fine poets Walt and I met during Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides 2009 April Poem-a-Day Challenge.  Months after the challenge ended, I wrote a poem about how I felt when I entered that site on April 1, and the days that followed.  I entitled it “This Grand Ballroom,” and wrote of how out-of-place I felt among the excellent poets there.  I was truly baffled and awed when any of them noticed my work.  Without naming names, I mentioned several in my poem. Here is an excerpt:

A young woman compliments

My faux pearls,

Herself, adorned with genuine pearls

Of the highest quality

That she has been gleaning and stringing herself

For many years.

Sharon is this woman.  Thank you, Sharon, for your encouragement to me back then.  You were instrumental in igniting my love for poetry.  Walt and I are grateful…

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I knew it was risky; I wouldn’t be able to keep away
Like a junkie, standing at the window, an outsider
Needing to use, to be part of, my body craved the paint
The way an addict craves the juice—don’t ask me
How I know—I know—I have, I guess you could say
Intimate knowledge, and it is fearsome, this craving
This ache to take up the brush again, after so long

Every minute I spent there, not walking away
Just staring at the tubes of colour—magnolia, viridian
carnelian—and fresh white canvases spotless,displayed
Laid out like stretchers as if placed there just for me—
Brought me closer to going on one of my sprees

And deny as I might—and believe me, there was some
Desperate denying dancing around inside my head—
That I could still leave anytime—really, just turn
on my heel and go—some part of me was aware
That my reserves were eking away and once gone
So would I be—gone that is—lost to the god of art



Like the juice of a blood orange

The sun drips off the horizon

Streaking the sky between striations

Of blue, it is melting into sunset


Twilight swishes herself onstage

as soon as it seems decent to put

in an appearance – with her layers

of indigo, mauve and intimations

of lavender, lilac and royal


She hates to seem overly eager

But considering how brief her

stint is – once she’s on, she wants

every ounce of time due her,

it’s true


Before evening arrives,

towing all those bloody but

magnificent constellations

Spread like Swarovski crystals

on actual velvet – not velveteen –

Interspersed with glowing planets

– aligned and not – but impressive



And God forbid

It should be one of Luna’s showy

nights … well, twilight, dusk – call

her whatever romantic name you will

It doesn’t matter how wonderful

her palette may be, it will

never be quite memorable enough.