Finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
The poems in Christopher Patton's debut collection, Ox, are about seeing clearly, and also about relinquishing the need to see with specific intent. Through this tension they find their idiosyncratic magic. Like the twelfth-century Buddhist parable of the ox-herder, Ox begins with a search, and its open-ended journey—one full of sprawling, strange, syntactically complex, cantilevering byways--establishes the form of its religious and philosophical reach. Moving across lucently rendered North American landscapes, Patton catches a glimpse of his own spiritual setting, and in the process suggests a new direction, perhaps an entirely new scale, for Canadian nature poetry. Brimming with beautifully-controlled descriptions and startlingly precise word-play, Ox is an image of vulnerability before the world's plenitude. It is an astonishing achievement.
Christopher Patton's poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, The Malahat Review, and The Fiddlehead, and were anthologized in The New Canon: An Anthology of Canadian Poetry. In 2000, he was awarded The Paris Review's Bernard F. Conners Prize for Poetry. Patton writes, and tends his apple trees, on Salt Spring Island.
Praise for Chritopher Patton's poetry:
"His work will become indispensable." —Times Literary Supplement
"The pleasure of reading Patton's language is so great that it's easy at first to miss the subtle spirituality of what he is doing." —poetryreviews.ca
"Dense, knotty, allusive and musical, this is spiritual poetry of real depth and material engagement. Clearly a first book long in the making and ruthlessly trimmed of fat." —Zachariah Wells
"Artful, intelligent and substantial. It is a refreshing and generous first book from a very steady-eyed, steady-handed, steady-minded new poet." —Coldfront Magazine
"Oxen—those deep-thinking brothers and sisters of cattle—keep their faces close to the ground most of the time. So does Christopher Patton. It’s an excellent posture for munching the grass and an excellent posture for poetry. Here’s a voice that is eyeball-to-eyeball with all that we stand on." —Robert Bringhurst
"Here is a poetry which demands (and rewards) an attention we may not know we 'had.' The compensations are as generous as the scruples are insistent. Yield to the rigour and it will reward you with a kind of ease not available elsewhere: there are no further pains to be taken here, only delight and a semi-botanical perlustration." —Richard Howard
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