Finalist for the Canadian Author’s Association Award for Poetry, 2012
In [Henderson’s] work we realize, over and over again, that each of the mind’s worlds speaks a secret language, which it is the poet’s task to discover and translate.In Sharawadji, this includes not only such worlds as those created by the surreal paintings of Jacek Yerka, but the intense, re-humanizing experience of loss and grief.
Tim Lilburn writes, “Sharawadji begins with a series of smart, sinuous portraits of placeless, post-apocalytic locales. These poems seem to grow from sensuous interior observation; their phantasms, appearing ‘haloed and blown, in their fizzing solders,’ are strange yet unsettlingly familiar. Throughout this collection, Henderson conjures alternate worlds – they resemble the peculiar kingdoms in Sufi visionary recitals – that are enticing, disarming and uprooting”
“Brian Henderson is one of the most innovative poets writing in Canada today. Sharawadji is his greatest achievement so far . . . He is a master at distilling lived experiences down to their linguistic and emotional essences. . . What he has created on these pages has my deep and lasting gratitude.” —Don Domanski
“Poetry for the soul – Brian Henderson dazzles with Sharawadji.” – Quentin Mills-Fenn, Uptown magazine, Winnipeg
“Sharawadji is an exceptionally original, linguistically kinetic exploration contain[ing] stunning imagery, metaphors and language. Tracking imaginative possibilities anchored by a profoundly engaged heart and mind, Henderson’s is a rare voice.” ~ Judges for the Canadian Authors Association Award
Right now I’m thinking of poems as sensation generating events that rather than concentrate on either on the referencing process, on the narrative or its speaker, the signified or signifier, the phoneme, or any of the traditional corporeal aspects of the poem, concentrate instead on the incorporeal, the phantasms and microphantasms that the body of a poem can project, on its ghosts, ever so fleetingly. What Brian Massumi calls the virtual. Pre-reference. Pre-narrative. Events that characterize emergent and self-organizing systems that happen in far-from-equilibrium conditions. “Dissipative structures,” to take a phrase from Prigogine, that throw off possible-narratives, or possible-nodes of awareness. Something like this (wish me luck; I’ll need it):
In the fragile moment of the letter that
calls out your name, in the lift up over sounding
of the medicine quill, tincture at wrist
blue under yellow shaft of flicker
under owl wing sonata, green
ink, copper wall window, colour of
endangered hush. Walk in here, she said, and she
meant by way of the colours, which deepened
as you heard them, bone white, bone yellow, bone
black, coloratura, an insignia embossed
in beaten gold, every door its own
paradise animal, its own eye.
On waking this morning the tear, the rent — the shattering blue tocsin in the smoke grey sky, that first appeared a week ago, ripping its way to the top of the tower, has splattered blue exclamations through me, making me like one of the dreamed-up ones, blotted by brightness, while the smudged orange rubble fires on the horizon continue to mark the perimeter. And now the silencing device in my throat is giving me trouble. Spiked like a pollen grain and injected into the voice box, it swells there, pining it shut from the inside. And naturally any writing devices — mechanical, electronic, chemical, genetic — are not permitted. The fuel marauders and suicide detonators might be anywhere, and they live on information, of which they must be starved. Splattering is everywhere. So I’ve horded the old newspapers where messages a scrap of light can now find on a shadowed page — spangled bracelets of tiny instruments, areolae of fierce blue — direct, my needless to say illegal, research into emergent thought vessels, this voiceless voice you might be hearing inside your head.
The Sea, the Valley and the Temple City
Clear creamy sky, sky traces of fuchsia cloud over the nearly horizonless sea I wake to, the fine underslum of the godway, looking straight into the music where we cannot be, awaiting a ticket, the dive of the pliosaur armies, the moment the sea is higher than the valley, dropping away from the sea, the very waking edge of ocean, the rift valley a thousand feet below where the river is lazily thinking to itself. The ocean to itself does not fall but the river spills into it so far away at the foot of the cliff the spiralling city is carved from. The ocean does not fall, as if it were held in a fairy tale and something is required of me. Torqued hive of fossil home dreamed from the shores of sleep, rising from the sea, older than sharks, older than shadow excavated by water, the nearly drowned tower, whose ghost language I’m at the foot of.