April 6, 2005

Jeremy Stewart, one hour more light [review]

There are six or seven poets in Prince George (that I am
familiar with) that I am positive will be widely published
before long. Jeremy Stewart is one of them. I know Stewart
mostly as a poet but he is also a successful musician/songwriter
and painter. In all his endeavors he is relentless and hard-
nosed. Fine Prince George pedigree.

one hour more light was published by my chapbook press,
wink books, in 2004. It is the first chapbook I’ve published that is not
my own. It may seem odd for a publisher to review his
own publication, but chapbooks are a bastard form and all rules
are off. I will describe the book to you. Find it and make your own

The poetic persona of this book is a Prince George street. It’s
a kid on a Prince George street who, despite the street’s
violences, believes in the street. Believes it is in him. It’s an
awkward gruff language that greets him. He loves it:

a raspy throat crows a hoarse cry
/ calls out:

wire birds sing the day before a black cloudburst
/ descant with ghosts
who will not answer

this is my street
so I sing along

Stewart’s poem “(lines for my famous father . . . )” is now a
Prince George anthem and captures the essence of the city
in its abused but loveable town mascot/statue “Mr. PG,” a
cartoonish character made of fake logs. Stewart’s chapbook
is about place and the negotiation of place—the kind of odds
Prince George artists are up against and persevere.

In the poems, Prince George is laid bare: its boom and bust
(“that was the bust that nursed me”), its stalwart poets in the
Sears Country Inn (“sitting across the cafeteria / from Barry
McKinnon and John Harris unbeknownst to us / laugh
now a secret convergence of poets"), the haunted landscape
(“the horizon through the scrawny lodgepole pines
green blackening”), misguided graffiti (“FAg”), and songs
from real places (“7th Avenue, Legion Hall parking lot”). The
chapbook is a sourcebook on surviving with creativity in a
northern logging town. It is history, memoir, and tall tale. It is
sprawling, bold, unabashed, young, and heading out:

to break down
decompose the black
and white lines
on the sheet of news-
print that lies
under the fallen poplar
rotten beyond recognition
when the snow melts in
spring seeping
sustenance from dead layers
into the green earth

that is the creative process
of a northern poet


Stewart, Jeremy. one hour more light. Prince George: wink books, 2004.
44pp. unpagenated. Printed on Digital color Xpressions text stock and
Blue Sandstone cover stock. Photograph and drawings by Jeremy Stewart.


Andrea Collet said...

Just popping in to say hi, and that i got the mass email. *gushes* Gee, i hope one day i could be a famous writer too.... *smiles* one day... :)

*waves hi*

Rob Budde said...

if anyone wld like a copy of _one hour more light_ they are available at Books & Co. and the UNBC Bookstore in Prince George or you can email Rob Budde at rbudde@unbc.ca to order.