03 May 2006

The Spaces In Between (NeWest Press, 2003)

In The Spaces In Between, you will find poems about pioneers, the expatriates who lived in Montparnasse, Bob Dylan, love and loss, paintings and photographs, mountains, landmarks, and more. The poems run freely across the pages, as varied in form and metre as in subject matter. Some are light and airy, others are dense and resemble prose, though their rhythm betrays them.

The Spaces In Between collects poems that span of Scobie's career from 1965 to 2001. Many of them reference songs, paintings and cities that Scobie knows intimately -- in fact intimate is possibly the best single word to describe this collection. Consider "My skin is made of stars," only two lines long, it conveys an intimacy that other authors spend chapters to describe:

My skin is made of stars

My skin is made of stars
I want you to be my astronomer

Scobie playfully considers how pioneers named mountains; where Picasso found inspiration; how vampires comb their hair; and what would happen if Oedipus met Freud at the fork in the road. On other pages he writes of past loves, family and the love of his life, even a love song for the city of Edmonton and CBC radio. Perhaps the truest words of all are in the poems that close the volume: "Maureen: poems for the weeks of her dying," a cycle of nine poems that document exactly that, the last weeks Scobie spent with his wife, Maureen. I cannot read them without a catch in my throat. Each of Scobie's books, including The Spaces In Between is dedicated "For Maureen, as always, as everything."

Stephen Scobie is a contemporary award-winning Canadian poet. He is also a traveller, a teacher and a scholar, currently living in Victoria, BC where he teaches at the University of Victoria.


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