Transient Light


128 pages
ISBN 0-920544-74-6
DDC C811'.54





Peter Baltensperger is the editor and publisher of Moonstone Press and
the author of Arcana.


Transience—light shining on a cityscape, on a building, on a street,
lingering for a moment and then passing by, passing through time,
leaving a faint imprint in someone’s mind: Toronto, Paris, 1896, 1925,
1988; images frozen in time and place. These are the transient lights
Smith has captured in his new collection of poems, bridging decades and
continents with the sensitivity of a poet looking at one thing at a
time, yet seeing all as if it were one—Paris a lifetime ago, and Paris
now; Toronto over the span of a century, and Toronto now, juxtaposed by
matching titles, differentiated by sections and dates. What emerges is a
gradually developing image of the poet as a careful—and
caring—observer, a photographer of words and a historian, meticulous
in his attention to detail, trying to capture that which does not remain
and capturing what was not meant to stay: the passing light illuminating
a scene, falling on a face, bringing a detail into focus, and passing
on. Images reverberate across the division of the book, across the
distance and across time, as in “The Tree. 1963,” where “in a slim
city grove / the tremble of trees falling / still echoes.” So in the
pages of Transient Light, the afterglow of places, the haloes of people
and events also echo still, waiting for a compassionate ear to linger,
to listen to the passages of time, to hear the light brushing across the
mindscapes generated by the realities that once were for a brief moment
in time. A diary in many ways, as well as an album and a historical
record, this volume rewards the reader with the richness of its images,
images that are bound to linger long after the light has moved on once


Smith, Steven., “Transient Light,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024,