Monday, September 25, 2023

A.F. Moritz

A.F. Moritz has authored more than twenty poetry collections, including Rest on the Flight into Egypt (1999, Brick Books), The Sparrow: Selected Poems (2018, Ananasi) and As Far As You Know (2020, Anansi). From March 2019 until May of 2023 he served as Poet Laureate of Toronto. He teaches Creative Writing at the University of Toronto, and in 2009 he received the Griffin Poetry Prize.

When CBC Radio asked him why he writes poetry, and why it is significant, he spoke of his childhood journey with poetry, and continued,
-----"As I got a little older, I realized and prized that I’d been
-----fascinated by poetry from much earlier, from well before I could
-----read. I connected Poe and the other poetry I soon was reading to
-----the poetry I had heard, from nursery rhymes adults read me out of
-----books, to children’s traditional street and play rhymes, to the
-----Catholic liturgy which, of course, contains some of the world’s
-----great poetry. For instance, I can remember clearly that the
-----suffering servant song of Isaiah was both searing and dear to me
-----from before my ability to read, probably from a couple of years
-----before, although times are impossible to recall precisely in that
-----period of life just emerging from the childhood amnesia. Anyway,
-----this poem has always remained as a chief basis of my work, as
-----something that I remember constantly, and probably don’t have to
-----'remember': by now it simply is me. So too with the psalms, passages
-----of Paul, and the like."

The following poem is from his collection The New Measures (2012, Anansi).

The Grand Narrative

The waters of the pool were troubled
each day, but only at the certain hour,
evening, when the angel entered―
when light, newly reaching
the beginning of its fading,
was most powerful, least dazzling, wholly
absorbed in colors. The water
cured every sickness in the first who touched it
and the blind man stretched out close by
and no one ever told him
the turbulence had come and the city
was darkened, the end had passed
but not yet fallen. No one
so much as kicked him so he tipped
into the boiling, into the seeming
the flat dusty pond was about to be
a fountain. Teacher, he shouted once,
when he heard the teacher had come,
there’s no one to carry me to the pool,
and the man answered him: Here
Here is an inexhaustible
troubling. It’s yours now. You can
see and walk. Remember me
next time you’re lame, blind, gnarled,
stuck in anemia or filth. Enter
the memory and see
the world shine
hating you, filling you
with beasts and birds, trees and flowers,
the growing distant
gabble of many friends, and walk
to unjust death in this city, this
happiness of living and moving again.

Posted with permission of the poet.

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.