Dancing, with Mirrors
by Dr. George N. Amabile (Orge) '57
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The Porcupine's Quill; 2011; 176 pp.
Genre: Poetry
Category: Literature
Additional Information - Library Catalog

Dancing, with Mirrors is George Amabile’s ‘lyrical retrospective’, a 
thoughtful fragmentation and re-arrangement of his personal history. These 
eleven ‘cantos’ tumble into and over each other in a rush of passion, 
memory, devastation, and quiet moments that promise renewal; here, 
Amabile’s talent for sounding the complex depths of everyday life shines 
like a beacon.
More than twenty years in the making, Dancing, With Mirrors is the result of 
George Amabile’s patient examination of his life. The light of careful 
attention, shining into his past, sends fragments of memory ricocheting into 
sensuous poems that arrange themselves, as if by magnetic attraction, into 
eleven remarkable cantos, each with a different focus, rhythm and texture. In 
this ‘lyrical retrospective’, decades are distilled into scattered 
moments: flashes of pain, sparks of affection, the smart of disappointment, 
small graces of the everyday.
Organized thematically into a roughly chronological narrative, these lyrical 
fragments make up George Amabile’s most intelligent and moving collection 
to date. Intense snapshots of life-defining moments, from his brother’s 
death to his relationship with a younger woman, are rendered with vivid 
immediacy, but also with a resonating aura that elicits questions which may 
never be answered by experience alone. These poems offer hard-won wisdom 
alongside a fierce commitment to life itself, capturing one man’s journey 
in exquisite imagery, an impressive variety of forms and a voice that is 
recognizably authentic in all its registers.
Since 1972 George Amabile has published seven collections of poetry and has 
had work in over a hundred magazines around the globe, including The New 
Yorker, Harper’s, and Saturday Night. Over the years he has come to be 
recognized as one of Canada’s most accomplished and masterful poets.
Review quotes

Just as with Rembrandt’s self-portraits over the course of his painting 
career, so it is with Amabile: it is the continuity within change that is 
fascinating, the way a certain development could not actually have been 
predicted but, once there, feels natural, selfevident.’
—Christopher Levenson  
       
A remarkable writer, Amabile provides us with a key to a larger understanding 
of the male ethos, something few male writers have attempted to do with such 
openness and honesty.
—Patrick Lane                                                  

       

What muscular lyricism! Amabile is a fearless singer who finds the right note 
for every human emotion. With elegance and passion, he pushes against the 
silence of complacency. He’s both of the world and other-worldly, a vatic 
poet with a sharp intelligence, simply one of the country’s best.’
—Lorna Crozier

 

Excerpt from book
Transit in Absentia
. . . . . .
6.
A fuzzy half-moon hangs from the bruised night.
It looks as though it has become infected
with some as yet uncatalogued fungus, tenacious
as angelhair. It has lost its place
in the old stories -- Astarte, Nanna,
His-wang-mu, or the Mexican Trickster
Conejo -- and must be content
with its role as pock-marked veteran
of obscure plagues and wars,
the unearthly darkness packed like grease
around a bearing
that won’t hold up much longer.

7.
And all the while they were imagining
soft landings, the night sky,
the moon a pearl among diamonds,
the empty sleeves
                               of the sea.
Later, they abandoned each other
to ambivalent shade, breathing
shallow afternoons and closing the books
they had leafed through as a hedge against boredom.
It was enough to dream with half closed eyes,
to speak in fragments, in a vernacular
conditioned by boutiques and cafes.
Pods ripen and fall.
They gather their towels and cups,
their headbands, their unread mail,and that is all they have time for
under cliffs with their fossil records
lying carelessly open,
a rough Braille in the decaying light.

8.
The big boat shudders and hums.
Light sparkles under a thin haze.
As the stern
                     veers
                               and steadies,
blue hills drift away. The gulls
adjust. The air-vent grills
quiver and blur, and the waves,
slate grey like the backs
of the gulls, change
textures: chipped
stone like a primitive ax-head,
hammered lead,
burred steel and a cross-hatch
of loosely woven linen...
The breeze dies. The sea is a mirror
filled with nothing but time.
The breeze dies. The sea is a mirror
filled with nothing but time.