Monday, September 17, 2018

John Slater

John Slater is a poet from the Toronto area, known as Brother Isaac in his life as a Trappist monk in upstate New York. His first poetry collection Surpassing Pleasure appeared from The Porcupine’s Quill in 2011. Canadian poet Tim Lilburn has said — in reference to Slater’s new collection, Lean (Grey Borders, 2016) — “We are lucky to have such an eye and mind among us.”

Along with Jeffery Einboden he has translated The Tangled Braid: Ninety-nine Poems by Hafiz of Shiraz — the 14th century Sufi poet.

Slater lives at The Abbey of Genesse where he cares for elderly monks, works in their Japanese garden, and helps produce the abbey’s popular Monk’s Bread.

The following poem is from Surpassing Pleasure.

Building on Sand

The ocean was for him as light
to a master of stained-glass
windows …

Simple implements, trowel,
bucket, water
to keep the white beach sand
wet and mouldable.

Unconcerned about the crowd
of tourists and curious
passersby, he chiselled
a fine Last Supper, a muscular
bust of Christ, or a crucifix,
etched in block letters
at the base:


Each dusk, with an odd mix
of loss and satisfaction
to watch the day’s work
swept away,
dissolved in the slow tide’s
gradual blessing.

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Posted with permission of the poet.

This is the first Kingdom Poets post about John Slater: second post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.