Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Pangborn Defense

I had lunch with Norm Sibum last Wednesday at one of his sleepy hang-outs across the tracks from me on Sherbrooke West (Norm: soup. Me: pita souvlaki). Norm passed along a copy of his new poetry collection The Pangborn Defense, published by Bibloasis and sporting a natty cover image by his partner, painter Mary Harman. A original member of the Jubilate Circle, Norm is one of most aloof and mysterious mainstays of the Montreal poetry community (he sometimes reminds me of a modern-day Ovid, banished to the Black Sea of N.D.G.).

Framed as a series of verse-letters to various friends, Pangborn Defense is one of his best collections to date. Rollicking and linguistically unrelenting, the poems are full of strong feelings and sharp observations ("Hobbyists of the pleasures, part-time ingenues, / These women on a Sunday, paunchy and pasty, / go for broke, bedenimed, high-heeled"). Another poetry book called Smoke and Lilacs -- his 15th! -- is forthcoming from the UK's Carcanet Press in 2009.

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