Born in Bracebridge, Ontario, Adam Dickinson has written four books of poetry and has earned numerous awards and nominations. His writing focuses on the intersection of science and poetry. For example, his latest book, Anatomic, involves the results of chemical and microbial testing on his body. His third book, The Polymers, plays with the science of plastic materials and the aspects of language and culture, such as arguments and trends, that repeat like plastic molecules. He currently teaches at Brock University and you can follow him on Twitter.
I missed the bus home from school one afternoon. As it happened, I had just taken Dylan Thomas's Collected Poems from the library out of curiosity. I ended up reading it during the 5 km walk. I couldn’t believe it was possible to use language like that. I was deeply inspired by the electric leaps the words provoked in my imagination. I was determined to figure out how to make my own poems.
I started writing poems in high school. Early publications included short pieces on rolled up notebook paper stuffed into corked glass bottles and hurled into Georgian Bay. I also made some small chapbooks with friends. We traded them back and forth and sold some on consignment at the local bookstore. Poetry was such fabulous fun we felt like we were inventing as we went along.
Poetry makes the inscrutable writing of history and culture legible in ways that can provoke us to think differently about the way we organize our world and the kinds of assumptions that underlie it. The poet’s job is to make windows out of words, then break the glass, jump through, and describe life on the other side and what it looks like to look back.
“Hail” is from my book The Polymers. The poem’s accretive, accumulating structure is modeled on the repetitions inherent in polymer chemistry. The poem, along with the book as a whole, is an attempt to formulate a literary response to the capacity of plastics to influence social formations and alter human metabolism.
There are so many to choose from, including favourites from Susan Holbrook, C.D. Wright, and Brenda Hillman. If pressed, however, I will choose Erin Mouré’s translation “Homage to the Mineral of the Onion (I),” which makes me think in a different way about my Ukrainian grandmother and the borscht she made from onions grown in her garden.