Peter Sanger

Poet and essayist Peter Sanger is best known for his influential writings on poets John Thompson, Douglas Lochhead, and Richard Outram. His most recent books include retrospective collections of critical essays (Of Things Unknown: Critical Essays, 1978–2015) and poetry (Fireship: Early Poems, 1965–1991). He lives in Truro, NS.

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Aiken Drum
Peter Sanger

2006 / Poetry / $19.95
9781554470143 / Trade paper / 144 pp

In his sixth collection of poetry, Peter Sanger brings his archaeologist’s eye, along with classical and local iconography, to his encounters with domestic implements, local ecology, cultural relics and landmarks. The poems in this collection achieve a delicate balance between the grounded and the ethereal, such that the poet’s studies set down in words without losing any of the transient nature of seeing and of understanding.

Alighting on plants, tools, vessels, instruments and jewellery, Sanger’s engagement with each is infused with imagination and a sharp association with an interior catalogue of imagery that spans classical mythology, Shakespeare, and a personalized spectrum of more contemporary influences, including poets Elizabeth Bishop and Richard Outram, and photographer Thaddeus Holownia.

The poems in this collection share a stunning precision, and demonstrate a simultaneous thrift and exuberance of language and rhythm. Music comes from surprising places, adding a quality of purity and resolve in some places, achieving the liturgical lilt of nursery rhyme in others.

Aiken Drum features a long poem on the nebulous existence of William Newman—alias: Moon—a con artist who got by on what others assumed about him as he roamed New England and the Maritimes in the early nineteenth century. Here Sanger tugs at the edges of a more recent myth, revealing some of the essence of mythology itself. As the voices of poet, speaker and subject coalesce, readers are compelled to question just what we make of individuality and what we deem truth. Circling around the verity of the person and the presentation of that verity in literature, Sanger extends into poetry the bibliographic sleuthing that has defined his recent prose work.

“The tutelary spirit in Aiken Drum is an archetypal, mercurial shape-shifter whose name gives the collection its title,” says Sanger. “Originally, the character Aiken Drum appears in an old Scottish nursery rhyme of uncertain origin. Here, he also appears in the shape of the infamous ‘mysterious stranger’ who called himself during a career of thievery and fantastical escapades Smith or More or Newman or—Henry Moon. His story is told in the poem sequence ‘Abatos,’ but his presence, in various forms (including at one point, the philosopher Wittgenstein), infiltrates many poems throughout the collection. Like many books of poetry, Aiken Drum’s geography is both purgatorial and paradisal. Which is which, and when, are matters for the man in the moon and Aiken Drum.”

Has Special Edition: 9781554470150

Other Books by this Author

Lightfield: The Photography of Thaddeus Holownia
Peter Sanger

2018 / Photography, Essays, Canadian Art / $24.95 CAN / $24.95 US
9781554471775 / Trade paper
Of Things Unknown: Critical Essays, 1978–2005
Peter Sanger

2015 / Literary Criticism / $34.95 CAN / $34.95 US
9781554471508 / Trade paper
Peter Sanger

2014 / Essay / $9.95 CAN / $9.95 US
9781554471256 / Pamphlet
Fireship: Early Poems, 1965–1991
Peter Sanger

2013 / Poetry / $25.95 CAN / $25.95 US
9781554471218 / Trade paper
John Stokes’ Horse
Peter Sanger

2012 / Poetry / $21.95 CAN / $21.95 US
9781554471133 / Trade paper
Through Darkling Air: The Poetry of Richard Outram
Peter Sanger

2010 / Biography / $65.95 CAN / $65.95 US
9781554470617 / Hardcover
The Stone Canoe: Two Lost Mi’kmaq Texts
Peter Sanger, Elizabeth Paul, Alan Syliboy

2007 / Literary Criticism / $29.95 CAN / $29.95 US
9781554470433 / Trade paper
Aiken Drum
Peter Sanger

2006 / Poetry / $49.95 CAN / $49.95 US
9781554470150 / Fine
White Salt Mountain: Words in Time
Peter Sanger

2005 / Books & reading / $59.95 CAN / $59.95 US
9781554470037 / Fine
White Salt Mountain: Words in Time
Peter Sanger

2005 / Books & reading / $27.95 CAN / $27.95 US
9781554470044 / Trade paper
Spar: Words in Place
Peter Sanger

2002 / Books & reading / $49.95 CAN / $49.95 US
9781894031554 / Fine
Spar: Words in Place
Peter Sanger

2002 / Books & reading / $21.95 CAN / $21.95 US
9781894031547 / Trade paper
Divisions of the Heart: Elizabeth Bishop and the Art of Memory and Place
Sandra Barry, Peter Sanger, Gwendolyn Davies

2001 / Essays / $32.95 CAN / $32.95 US
9781894031318 / Trade paper
Peter Sanger

2001 / Poetry / $4.95 CAN / $4.95 US
9781894031530 / Pamphlet

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