Sunday, May 13, 2007


Troy Jollimore was a contemporary of mine in graduate school. He now teaches ethics at California State University, Chico. He also writes poetry, and his recent book, Tom Thomson in Purgatory, won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Jollimore's imagined folk hero is the namesake of an iconic Canadian landscape painter, and the object of a sonnet sequence reminiscent of John Berryman's Dream Songs: wry, conversational, whimsical, full of Yoda-esque inversions and grammatical lapses.

The miscellaneous poems ("From the Boy Scout Manual") are wonderful, too, rippled with the thrill of things as they are, sources of passion and pleasure - but not without ambivalence, like the fireflies we find
Poised, aflutter, between two
thoughts, two possibilities, each one
desiring our belief, though they cannot both be true.