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Lookout by John Steffler
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The first collection of new poems in more than a decade from one of Canada’s most respected poets
The poems in John Steffler’s new collection are enlivened by the same muscular acts of attention that characterize his earlier books. As always, his poems inhabit experience fully, senses on high alert, transmitting the abundance and turbulence of physical existence; they are charged with the raw Eros of being. Nowhere is there a more complete nature poet: attuned, robust, honest, fully informal, and emotionally candid, brimming with energy and animal spirits. Many of the poems in Lookout explore and evoke specific landscapes: the limestone barrens of Newfoundland; the Blomidon and Lewis Hills; the Greek Islands. Others dwell on personal relationships: lover, pregnant daughter, and a touching, finely tuned sequence on a family coping with a mother’s Alzheimer’s. There is also a wonderful set of meditations on photographs from the archives in Newfoundland. Canadian literature is blessed – and animated – by John Steffler’s contributions to it.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
McClelland & Stewart; March 2010
ISBN 9780771082689
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Title: Lookout
Author: John Steffler
The Role of Calcium in Evolution
Sweet calcium we found we could live with,
stir into our cells’ hubbub, tinker into
a trellis to carry our fi erce red vine – its
eyeball blossoms, cunt orchids, cock orchids –
we could whittle it into bone stilts and paddles,
hooks, tongs, helmets, mallets, cleavers, awls,
fl utes, rasps, rattles, corsets, folding spokes,
but then, oh god the weight of all these
contraptions! Just throw them out and be
light! While the old hardware clatters
down like Victorian claw-foot settees
settling in scrap heaps – the ear trumpets,
the spurs compressed in archaeological
fi les – we fl oat careless as fruit fl ies
in an armoury, all the weight lifted,
tra-la! But the dark rock candy of history
dissolves in the rain, leaking the diatom’s binary
code, the lobster’s molecular gospel into
the water we drink. Sleepless we pore over
Things You Can Make with Calcium in cellular
Braille. As soon as you throw something away
you need the damn thing! Hinged pincers
down here somewhere under the catapults and
greaves. Tell me how else to deal with the world!

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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