Persons Real and Supposed

The World Forgotten: Selected Poems

By Bert Almon

A review of The World Forgotten: Selected Poems by Paul Belanger

Published on March 1, 2007

The World Forgotten: Selected Poems
Paul Belanger

Guernica Editions
$15
paper
75pp
978-1-55071-235-3

Paul Bélanger’s The World Forgotten is a fine addition to the stock of Québécois poetry in translation. In this selection, the poet is preoccupied with the inner life and with poetry that probes it. The person here is not revealed in any sort of confessional detail. The workings of memory and perception are his favorite themes, but the emphasis is on how they turn into poems. The images tend to be generic, though not in a bad sense: wind, night, the street. Bélanger shows the images’ essences rather than the gritty particulars we find in the work of Angela Hibbs. Like Yeats, Bélanger doesn’t think of the poet as “the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast.” Rather, the person in his poems is the poet exercising his creative powers. The mode of the poems is usually the reverie, and Bélanger’s reveries are a vehicle for composition: “Little by little his life comes down / to a gesture patiently performed with craft / here the poem appears.” The danger, fully understood, is that life can become “white noise on my eardrums.” No wonder he asks in one poem, “is poetry enough?” But the world remains the necessary condition for art and he seems in no real danger of solipsism: “the deserted street is an open notebook / like the notebook on the desk / open to pleasure.” There is enough pleasure here for the reader to want a more extensive selection. mRb

Bert Almon lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retired from teaching, he follows the careers of his former students.

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