The Principle of Rapid Peering

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Author: Sylvia Legris

Category: Literature & literary studies

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Corsair

ISBN: 9781472158864

RRP: $22.99


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Self-seeding wind

is a wind of ever-replenishing breath.

-from ‘The Walk, or The Principle of Rapid Peering’

The title of Sylvia Legris’ melopoeic collection The Principle of Rapid Peering comes from a phrase the nineteenth-century ornithologist and field biologist Joseph Grinnell used to describe the feeding behaviour of certain birds. Rather than waiting passively for food to approach them, these birds live in a continuous mode of ‘rapid peering’.

Legris explores this rich theme of active observation through a spray of poems that together form a kind of almanac or naturalist’s notebook in verse. Here is ‘where nature converges with words,’ as the poet walks through prairie habitats near her home in Saskatchewan, through lawless chronologies and mellifluous strophes of strobili and solstice.

Moths appear frequently, as do birds and plants and larvae, all meticulously observed and documented with an oblique sense of the pandemic marking the seasons. Elements of weather, ornithology, entomology, and anatomy feed her condensed, inflective lines, making the heart bloom and the intellect dance.

Features drawings by the poet.

As a poet, Legris is a master of the curving tangent, working her way around a central theme while simply inclining, dropping clippings, allowing the reader to follow, suspended, her careful meanderings, often grounded by a hard-working title or subtle allusion – Los Angeles Review of Books

Sylvia Legris’s Garden Physic is the most refreshing book of the year. There’s nothing around quite like it – The Sunday Times

Sensuous, brainy and cardiovascular, Garden Physic is a cutting-edge ode to plants, teeming with human knowledge and natural mystery, accompanied by gem-like illustrations by the poet – Guardian

A dazzling, innovative storehouse of delight

[A] bright, blazing book of poems . . . Garden Physic brings to the ecological poem a language lush enough to be arrested by, to be changed by, to get lost in. I adore it

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