McGill-Queen’s University Press recently released Failure’s Opposite, a collection of essays on the work of Canadian poet A.M. Klein, edited by Sherry Simon and Norman Ravvin. Klein was ahead of his time, using his mixed Jewish/francophone/anglophone background to develop a hybrid poetic language that Quebec English-language poets are just beginning to pay tribute to today. I’m excited to get my hands on a copy. Klein opened a creative door for me when I immigrated to Quebec a few years ago. His poems invited me to develop my own sense of identity in Montreal’s diverse linguistic landscape. I look forward to reading more about him and his work.
I’m also excited to be included in a chapbook compiled in conjunction with the book’s release. Poet Jason Camlot invited rewritings of Klein’s iconic poem The Mountain and collected the resulting work into a handsome little volume called, “After The Mountain: The A.M. Klein Poetry Reboot Project”. I was so delighted that my poem was selected, and since only 125 versions of the chapbook were created, I thought I’d share it here:
The collision of tectonic plates
folds the Earth upon itself.
Blocks of rock slide along
and, lifted or tilted, pile up.
Magma pours over the Earth’s surface
then cools and hardens, or rises
from its mantle and lifts the overlying
layers of dirt to make a dome.
An uplifted plateau erodes.
The Earth’s crust erupts into a meadow,
a pebbly brook, buttercups. The bronze
tits of Justice.
The easy threes of trilliums thread dark
green, green, and white through the Earth,
beside bloodroots — Chokecherry black!
To make a mountain bleed cross light
over streetcars, pissabed dandelions,
coolie acorns, green prickly husks of chestnuts
and, beneath a mat of grass, root
all the Os and amber afternoons.
Find a single sentimental bench, soften
the brass of a band with dark and distant
mood. Tell the loved girl
you love her. In the layers of a mountain
make a man a kind of history.
By Abby Paige
From “After The Mountain: The A.M. Klein Poetry Reboot Project Anthology”, Jason Camlot, Ed., Synapse Chapbook Series, 2011.