Wanting the Day: Selected Poems


128 pages
ISBN 0-86492-357-0
DDC C811'.54




Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is the senior movie reviewer at the National Post.


Brian Bartlett can wring expression from a moment so fleeting that
others might not even know it was there, passing and ripe for
articulation. For Wanting the Day he has gathered 62 poems from a
half-dozen collections over the past 30 years, although most come from
1993 onward. Sometimes the instants he illustrates are named in the
titles (“Amphora of Wine 230 B.C.” asks, “Was it bitter like a
fruitless dive / or sweet like nitrogen narcosis?”) or in an opening
line (“Man’s hat, ca. 1740”). His observations range from those of
an omniscient narrator (“The sun was the only train that warmed the
rails”) to the refreshingly personal (“Blowdown, walk-under,
lean-to—/ I loved that prepositional trail / leading over rock and
spongy earth”). Most of the poems in this collection are short, a page
or so; longer works, such as “Underwater Carpentry,” tend to lose
their way or break apart into smaller stand-alone pieces. Even so, this
is a lovely and varied grouping, indicative of a keen, observant mind at
work over many years.


Bartlett, Brian., “Wanting the Day: Selected Poems,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/15353.