Don McKay

copyright ©2004 by Don McKay

That rising curve, the fine line
between craft and magic where we
travel uphill without effort, where anticipation,
slipping into eros,
                   summons the skin. When you
say “you” with that inflection something stirs
inside the word, echo
infected with laugh. One night O., gazing at the moon
as usual, encountered K. as he was trying to outwalk
bureaucracy. Yes, they said, let’s. If it is
possible to translate poetry, then,
what isn’t?

Notes on the Poem

In the poem "Camber", which gives the name to Don McKay's 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted poetry collection, the many facets of meaning of a word (not even mentioned in the poem itself) bring it all together - quietly, beautifully, enchantingly. As the 2005 judges' citation for McKay's collection notes so astutely:
"McKay displays an extraordinary capacity for submitting to and revelling in the musical phrases and cadences of language while never coming loose from meaning and sense."
"That rising curve" rolls with ease into the definitions of "camber" which, whether used as a noun or a verb, is all about curves, arches and convexity. The words that follow so smoothly ... "the fine line between craft and magic where we travel uphill without effort" capture without getting specific or technical the mysterious alchemy that allows vehicle wheels to work so effectively. How fascinating that this word and its layers of meaning are used to depict the subtle dichotomy of the two souls out seeking escape for different reasons. How satisfying their subtle melding, with a gentle joke and reassurance as their two initials come together. How perfect that how they come together is how well chosen words translate into the finest poetry.

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