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|The Year One|
2004 / Poetry / $19.95
9781894031844 / Trade paper / 192 pp
In 12 long poems, spanning January through December, David Helwig combines the gradually changing seasons with daily goings-on and memories. The Year One charts 12 months populated with birds, Shakespeare, kitchen utensils, foliage, slugs, dead poets, neighbours, weather and friends. He incorporates snatches of song, plays, dialogue and onomatopoeia to create distinct place and mood.
Helwig has arrived at an unusual form that fuses the detail and scope of fiction with the musicality of lyric verse, showing a gift for characterizing time and place, fitting old memories into the present tense with ease. Demonstrating a distinctly Canadian fascination with weather, he expresses awe at the changing seasons, recalling winter storms in the height of summer, deliberating over times past whilst headily engaged in present surroundings.
Throughout The Year One, Helwig suspends immediate and remote, present and past, individual and collective on the page together. Certain verses are as much about the process and mentality of describing as they are about the descriptions themselves. This creates a potency and level of comprehension for the reader that is at once tenuous and thoroughly engaging.
Layered thick upon one another, these verses are both personal and universal. The collective effect of the whole is something like perusing a desk drawer in which grocery lists curl up next to dramatic monologues and old letters rest between the pages of this year's almanac. With this book, Helwig opens the drawer and invites us to join him as he sorts.
This 5.75 by 8.25 inch book is a Smyth-sewn paperback with cover flaps. The cover is printed on Graphica! Celadon Vellum paper, with bio wraps printed on Rolland Zephyr Laid paper. The text was typeset in Rod McDonald's Cartier Book by Andrew Steeves and is printed on Zephyr.
The Year One fluently and evocatively lights the way to live more keenly in the moment. Michael Thorpe, The New Brunswick Reader
This book is significant, magnificent, and beneficent in its heart-etched reflections on life, faith, history, and nature only the grand, classical themes all expressed by a man at peace with himself, his relationships, and his mortality. George Elliott Clarke, Halifax Chronicle Herald