The Sway of Otherwise

One of my favorite evenings to recollect is June 24, 2012. It was a lovely, fresh evening on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island. I was there for the bi-annual L.M. Montgomery Conference (this one on cultural memory), and after all the interesting papers and presentations, we were visiting the site Maud called "hallowed ground" - the MacNeill Homestead where she lived until she was about 36 - and the place where Anne of Green Gables was born. No buildings remain, but the view Maud would have looked out on does - the old trees, the bright summer flowers, the long green hills. 

After a look-around, we walked to the nearby Cavendish United Church to hear some of the Island's best-loved poets read aloud. It was here that I heard David Helwig read from his most recent book, The Sway of Otherwise

The poems were so beautiful to me. There is a delicacy of diction in Helwig's work, and a kindness of vision: from a special shade of evening light to finding an old photo, not much is lost on this poet. With grounded, real words he gently spins ordinary moments into widening fields of thought and revelation. This was my kind of poet. What a gift to hear him in person in Montgomery's beloved Cavendish, and to buy his book and have him sign it.

I'll close with the last stanza of one of my favorite poems in the collection, "Poetics":

Lines, spaces, the unspoken between lines,
and the silence between the spaces—a tiny
peeping bird in silhouette against the cloud
of a November afternoon, exact, trans-
parent, counterlit, and defying syntax. Any
word said is perjury against the still unmade.

I took this photo from the bus while driving along the North Shore.

I took this photo from the bus while driving along the North Shore.