Previously Feared Darkness picks up and pulls at the vibrant threads of Robert Priest’s last collection, Reading the Bible Backwards. One strand leads, with unabashed candour and elegance, through the author’s love life; another, through fields of praise; a third experiments with automated metaphors and delivers a challenging new selection of mashups that Priest calls memePreviously Feared Darkness picks up and pulls at the vibrant threads of Robert Priest’s last collection, Reading the Bible Backwards. One strand leads, with unabashed candour and elegance, through the author’s love life; another, through fields of praise; a third experiments with automated metaphors and delivers a challenging new selection of mashups that Priest calls meme splices. A fourth thread rekindles the author’s love of the prose poem to produce a suite of strange tales, bizarre playlets, and phonetic modifications. And, for those whose cry is “brevity forever,” the micro-poems Priest collects are numerous and brilliant. Previously Feared Darkness consorts with forms and subject matter to present the work of a master getting deep and nasty and hilarious with the best of them....
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Previously Feared Darkness Reviews
Previously Feared Darkness by Robert Priest is his latest collection of poetry. Priest, also known as Dr. Poetry on CBC's Wordbeat has a popular following and professionally recognized. His has work is has received air play and he has published a number of children's CDs of songs and poems. Priest has also written ten books of poetry for adults. The Toronto Star accurately calls Priest's work “Passionate, cocky alternately adoring and insulting verse.” Priest is an interesting poet to say the least. He is hard to pin down. “All the Information in the Sun” starts with the promise of science. The title reminded me of one the latest quantum theories that information cannot be lost in the universe...much like matter and energy. I thought this will be interesting. But no sooner than I turned on my scientific mind, I come to Waistland, a play on T.S. Eliot and a irreverent poem on obesity. From there to Aztechs, a poem on modern wars and warfare tying it back to Quetzalcoatl's blood lust. Priest rotates his poems through a mix of themes keeping the reader interested and slightly off guard not knowing what to expect next. The science is refreshing, good, and even humorous:JinxEinstein and Heidelberg both said“There's no simultaneity over vast distances”at exactly the same time. Perhaps as a tribute to Martin Amis we are taken on a journey through John Lennon's life... in reverse. “Rights Left” reads a military cadence call and with clever plays on words brings us to a modern day concern for our individual rights. Equally alarming is Priest's interpretation of Book of Job(s) carried into the modern times. And yes, many will take offense and the more cynical of us will nod with understanding. Perhaps, if the “Book of Jobs” did not offend enough, maybe learning the true meaning of Churchill's “V” for victory sign will do it. If your modesty still hasn't driven you away, you should safely be able to navigate your way through the memes unscathed, maybe. Priest manages to combine science and social issues with what some will call the profane. I see it as combination of brilliant and a punk rock attitude. Sometimes his message is clear and other times its hidden in the brashness of words. It's easy to why he is so popular. He doesn't shock for the sake of shocking, like the Sex Pistols, but does it to deliver a message like Lou Reed's “Last Great American Whale”. Sometimes people need to be pushed into thinking. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and I am going to actively look for his other collections. Previously Feared Darkness may not be for everyone, but I find it to be absolutely brilliant.
I’m upping my review to 4 stars because the words of “One Day I Predict” have stuck with me more than anything from the other 228 books I read last year. (And it’s so inspiring I hope I can be excused my breach of copyright in copying out the whole thing here.)“One day I predictWe’ll be amazedAt our strengthWe will look at one anotherAstonished and sayWe didn’t think we could do thisOne day the path will be so clearWe will all say: it’s obviousAnd we will hardly believeWe couldn’t see the way before.One day I predictWe’ll have this great true story to tellA kind of anti-IliadFor the coming ageInvolving all of usWho think we are not warriorsAnd all of us who fearWe are not brave.”I’m glad I stumbled across Priest’s latest poetry collection on NetGalley. I had never heard of him before, although he’s a celebrated Canadian poet with 16 books to his name. Previously Feared Darkness is very much a response to recent history: the Occupy movement, the Arab Spring, anti-Islamic feeling, and the continuing societal crises of obesity and poverty. “Resistance is fertile,” he writes, and many of these poems are inspiring calls to action – to make this a world fit for everyone. One of my favorites is “Give Us a Floor”: “A floor, please, to take the great weight of human hearts” –“All at once in a great hootenanny and hollerA floor to bear the greatest table ever madeFor a feast where no one’s missingWe don’t want some poor flat excuse”Some of his efforts are less subtle: “Rights Left” takes the form of a protest marching song, and “iSlam” mocks both Apple products and the widespread fear of Muslims. Nevertheless, I appreciate Priest’s sense of justice and optimism, something you don’t often find in secular writing. “[It] Is easier to crush hope than to have it,” he writes in “Micro-Poems,” but when average people are noticing and doing something about inequity, there is indeed reason to have hope.Priest’s poetry is also notable for the prevalence of puns (“what a lyre this harper is,” “We’re in wait training,” and titles “The Waistland” and “The Leonard Koans”) and cheeky sexual content. He delights in word play in a long section of “meme splices,” where he substitutes two close words in many contexts, e.g. iron/irony, crisis/Christ, beast/breast. These are fairly clever if not particularly enlightening; a few would have been fine, but eleven pairings makes it overkill. I didn’t much care for the middle section of prose paragraphs either.Still, I would recommend this book to anyone with a political or religious conscience.“If there is no poetry left in the world / Our kind will die forever”
I'm the proud bearer of a signed copy of this book, still in the hands of the author, but I can't wait to dive into it when I meet up with him on December 1st to relieve him of it!I recommend "Rosa Rose" as a MUST READ for EVERY North American elementary and secondary school library. Inspirational. I heard that Robert visits schools to do readings and discuss his art and craft....I'd LOVE to be the fly-on-the-wall for THAT presentation! Very affable, approachable writer, someone I'm honoured and privileged to call my most talented friend. What the hell. Read ALL of his books. Time well spent. Love to Robert.Yours,Rosemary B-Chiu, Newmarket, Ontario
Previously Feared Darkness, poetry from the Canadian winter.Byline: Subterranean Blue Poetry Title of Book: Previously Feared Darkness Author: Robert Priest Publisher: ECW Press Date of Publication: 2013 Page Count: 97 Previously Feared Darkness, a captivating tome of poetry from Canadian Poetry Icon Robert Priest. Robert Priest, writer of 19 books of prose, poetry, and CD's, is a children’s author and singer/songwriter, bon vivant and man about town, the modern day answer to the legacy of Canadian Poet Robert Service, poetry icon.The Bard of Canada lives in mountains espousing the truth, inspiration and often humor, paints vignettes of the greats, John Lennon, Leonard Cohen, Milton Acorn and presenting Mr. Harper, observations of politics, poets, love, the New World and peace. As if influenced by the Counterculture Revolution of the 1960’s, flower power, free love and peace activism, the hope of this era emerges in a rambunctious, masculine, heterosexual work that is entertaining, direct connect and righteous. The Modernist influences extend to capitalization of each beginning line, a poet in step and saying his piece, “to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” Nothing Came “Nothing came Though waiting had happened Nothing came On the 4 a.m. bus Out of nowhere We waited and we waited some more But nothing came Nothing came to nothing And so we sat with that Like arrival Till it was a place Or a being In fact it was us This locus of nothing And it hurt like hell Nothingness in us Tugging at us Wanting to be something If we go on waiting I believe The bus will arrive And we will once again Have nothing in our arms” and the touch of Existentialism and sisyphicus all rolled into waiting at a bus stop at 4 a.m., perhaps after a party at a bar, and you know he was actually there at that bus stop, waiting. This Writer liked the beautiful tomes on love: From Between Your Disconnection and Mine “you need to say “love” preciselylove, love, concision has made me strange I cut corners in wordsI should have found you by now everything points toward youthe very land leads down we’ll wind up inthe same gullies no matter whatwe say we’ll be at the crestof the same waves still not makingeye contact I will stand with youat the very feet of god and neither you nor Iwill finally nod or what?we could break all the great spellsof time and circumstance with a glance” and Minatures: “Love is not the answer It is the question It is the command.” and Micro-Poems: “The sky is a search-engine with only one name in it: the beloved.” This poetry has weight, it is a man’s view of life and modern life Canadian. Also, within the book of poetry are some male humor pieces, as in V – “When Churchill flashed his famous V sign/ It wasn’t for victory/ As everyone says/ It was for vagina”; from The Waistland – “And there are fat arses/ Bigger than the backs of buses/ Bursting with vile gases . . . “This is the way the world ends/ This is the way the world ends/ This is the way the world ends/ Not with a bang/ But hemorrhoids” perhaps a parody of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland; Just a Wee Bit About Fucking and Asshole Sky. As this Writer read this book of poetry I quietly envisioned a bar on Bay Street in Toronto in the evening peopled with the men from the newspaper, marketing and business shops all dressed in the same suit, the same shoes and all reading Robert Priest. Near the end of the work are a series of poems with “Meme Splice” in the title with a play on two similar words, “Iron/Irony”, “Country/Cunt”, "Crisis/Christ", "Breast/Beast", "Honour/Horror" etc. an interesting concept (for Poets there is often this dichotomy in writing where 2 interchangeable words will present themselves for one spot in a line in a poem) however I found it hard to read, of the masculine and hard edges, like a bad Canadian winter where someone had died, yet I was also struck by the power of it. The poetry is also at times political, perhaps noting the less employment of the Computerized Economy: Definitions and Titles "Pooration: 1. the process of making a populace poor 2. pooration to the point where cuts are made to the core essentials of life is known as core pooration. See also: povertization and topple down economics See also: prausterity" As if taking the pulse of the New World, the Poet as Bard painting a postcard of now, Previously Feared Darkness by Robert Priest. Available from Amazon.
Normally I don't read poems for fun.Stumbled upon the book in the public library.Borrowed it.Read it.Love it.meme splice <-- Love
This book is an eclectic collection of clever, conniving and colorful poems, full of brilliant word and sound plays, and delicious insights.