Harmonics

by Jesse Patrick Ferguson

September 2009
6 x 9 paper 96 pp
ISBN 978-1-55111-960-1
CDN $16.95 | US $16.95

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Finalist for the 2010 CAA-Bookland Emerging Writer Award!

I heard the tone wood trees/of my neighbour’s lot resonate/with sustain enough to shatter crystal.

Jesse Patrick Ferguson brings the art forms of music and poetry into conversation with each other in this compelling debut collection. Modelled on the fundamental tones and overtones of the harmonic series, poems in Ferguson’s arrangement riff on one another, and words, phrases and images resonate sympathetically, with all the energy and buzz of a firmly plucked mandolin string.

Throughout, Ferguson pays homage to poetic traditions, infusing age-old forms like the sonnet and the villanelle with an astute and contemporary political sensibility, a unique and fresh aesthetic energy, and a breezy, brazen East Coast swagger. In dense and vivacious verse, he tunefully explicates a range of subjects from climate change to rent cheques to various incarnations of love, offering the reader a tin-can telephone to the raucous and beautiful symphony of everyday life.

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PRAISE FOR HARMONICS

“Jesse Ferguson’s vibrant poetry not only makes music, it is music: in this collection, poems resonate with one another as if they were part of the harmonic series. This book is structured by rhythms and echoes of rhythms, and forms that play upon those rhythms further (like the villanelle, sonnet, pantoum, and triolet). Throughout, ordinary things — rain, a struck match, utensils in the cutlery drawer — have the hum and rattle of magic. Here’s a poet who shows us how to put an ear to the world and listen.”
– Anne Simpson

“Jesse Ferguson is an irreverent formalist and a reverent experimentalist. One part sonorous Stormont County Scot, one part Klein or Layton, and one part Alden Nowlan, Jesse Ferguson cuts hay on some of the ageing fringes of the Canadian poetic tradition with refreshing honesty. Ferguson never buries his reverence for his masters — or, rather, his peers — in recondite allusion or post-modern cant; Jesse revels in their improvisational space with a vigorous vocal attack and an acute sensibility that is unafraid to be abashed.”
– Stephen Brockwell