Harry Thurston

Harry Thurstons most recent poetry collections include The Deer Yard (with Allan Cooper) and Animals Of My Own Kind. His environmental writing has been published in many of North Americas leading magazines, including Audubon, Canadian Geographic and National Geographic. He has been awarded numerous writing prizes in both Canada and the United States, including the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, the Lane Anderson Award and the Evelyn Richardson Literary Award. Thurston lives in Tidnish, Nova Scotia.


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Broken Vessel: Thirty-five Days in the Desert
Harry Thurston

2007 / Poetry / $15.95
9781554470341 / Trade paper / 48 pp


Broken Vessel is a lyrical & deceptively stark meditation on the Sahara desert. The desert Harry Thurston encounters is a place where fossils, footprints and myths are sometimes one and the same, and where seeing and imagining are flexible acts, equal parts observation and invention. Geography is at turns linear, permeable and cyclic. Sand, sky and water trade places, becoming one another and defying fixity. The focus of these poems shifts gradually, from weather to civilizations to animals, gods, oases and journeying. Underlying the work is a sense of mortality and impermanence, of the desert as an equalizing force. In chorus with his own observations, Thurston revives the voices of Caesar, Napoleon and others who have encountered the desert as strangers. A departure from the usual tenets of travel-inspired poetry, this collection of poems embodies the sparseness, the erasure of space and the specifics that characterize a landscape lush in negation.

According to the author: "In January 2000, I travelled to the Egyptian oasis of Dakhleh the Inner oasis in the Western Desert, 600 kilometres southwest of Cairo as the crow flies. I was there to research a non-fiction book on the history of this so-called everlasting oasis, where, archaeologists have shown, people have lived continuously for nearly half a million years. Travel often inspires me to write new poetry, and the clarity of the desert environment (which arises, I think, from its starkness and immensity) seemed to beg for a response in verse as well as prose. I decided to write a single poem at the end of each days exploration of the oasis and the surrounding desert. The poems were drawn from three principal sources: my firsthand observations of the desert environment and the things living in it; the Western Deserts known history; and my daily discovery of its revealed history, the last through the careful work of my archaeologist companions.

"In undertaking these poems, I was conscious of the ascetic tradition that the desert is a place of revelation, where, through removal from society at large, one might hope to achieve a greater clarity of purpose. My purpose was simple: to apprehend what I could in this, to me, foreign environment, then to respond extemporaneously in poetry, and to revise minimally at some later date. The result is the thirty-five poems of Broken Vessel, my metaphor for the desert."

Other Books by this Author

Keeping Watch at the End of the World
Harry Thurston

2015 / Poetry / $20.95 CAN / $20.95 US
9781554471447 / Trade paper
The Deer Yard
Harry Thurston, Allan Cooper

2013 / Poetry / $17.95 CAN / $17.95 US
9781554471201 / Trade paper
A Ship Portrait
Harry Thurston

2005 / Poetry / $49.95 CAN / $49.95 US
9781554470075 / Fine
A Ship Portrait
Harry Thurston

2005 / Poetry / $18.95 CAN / $18.95 US
9781554470068 / Trade paper
If Men Lived on Earth
Harry Thurston

2000 / Poetry / $39.95 CAN / $39.95 US
9781894031233 / Fine
If Men Lived on Earth
Harry Thurston

2000 / Poetry / $14.95 CAN / $14.95 US
9781894031226 / Trade paper

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