25th Trillium Award

Poets in Profile: Don Domanski

 
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Don Domanski

Halifax poet Don Domanski won the 2007 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry for the stunning collection All Our Wonder Unavenged (Brick Books). His newest book, Bite Down Little Whisper, has just been published with Brick Books. Don's poetry is powerfully lyrical and haunting, and it speaks with a wisdom and that could only have been drawn from the mysterious energy that seeps from the forest floor to infuse the life of every passing creature. These are lines that you'll hear pulsing at your temple long after you've closed your eyes for sleep.

In today's Poets in Profile interview, Don names the poems that have been resonant in his life and explains how to move on after the awkward pause in conversation that follows when one confesses to being a poet.

Open Book:

Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?

Don Domanski:

When I was a child I spent a lot of time in the forest and during that time I often felt a presence there, which I think is very common. That presence seemed to touch something deep inside me. What I was feeling was something spiritual, not religious in the sense of gods, angels, etc, but a real connection to the natural world. Somehow that translated into poetry and the desire to be a poet. It had spoken to me and I wanted to speak back to it and we?ve been having this conversation for over forty years now.

OB:

What is the first poem you remember being affected by?

DD:

"In My Craft Or Sullen Art" by Dylan Thomas. It stayed with me for weeks and after all these years I still admire it.

OB:

What one poem — from any time period — do you wish you had been the one to write?

DD:

"A Rabbit As King Of The Ghosts" by Wallace Stevens. The consciousness at work in that poem is simply amazing.

OB:

What has been your most unlikely source of inspiration?

DD:

Silence, I found it to be an alert cognitive state, a place from which to approach language. I don?t mean an outer silence but an inner one, that allows you to access the linguistic process from a new angle. Hard to explain that, except to say that silence always renews the possibilities.

OB:

What do you do with a poem that just isn't working?

DD:

If there?s a line or stanza that is good I place it aside. It might generate a new poem somewhere down the road. The rest of the poem is thrown away.

OB:

What was the last book of poetry you read that really knocked your socks off?

DD:

Assiniboia by Tim Lilburn (McClelland & Stewart). It?s a very demanding book, an illuminating book. He has raised the bar very high and I?m grateful for that.

OB:

What is the best thing about being a poet?and what is the worst?

DD:

The best thing is the act of creation itself, what more can a human being do?

The worst is explaining to strangers what I do. They don?t know what to say, so to be polite they ask what kind of poems I write and to be polite in return I say nature poems. And with that out of the way we can move on with the conversation.




Don Domanski was born and raised on Cape Breton Island and now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is the author of eight books of poetry. Published and reviewed internationally, his work has been translated into Czech, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese and Spanish. His last collection, All Our Wonder Unavenged (Brick Books), was the winner of the 2007 Governor General's Award for Poetry, the 2008 Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award and the 2008 Atlantic Poetry Prize.

For more information about Bite Down Little Whisper please visit the Brick Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore, online from the publisher or at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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