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Chamber Music

The Poetry of Jan Zwicky

By Jan Zwicky
Edited by Darren Bifford & Warren Heiti
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature, Poetry
Series Laurier Poetry Hide Details
Paperback : 9781771120913, 102 pages, December 2014
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781771121088, 102 pages, January 2015

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Chamber Music: The Poetry of Jan Zwicky, selected with an introduction by Darren Bifford and Warren Heiti

Foreword, Neil Besner

Biographical Note


Practising Bach

Language Is Hands

from Leaving Home

from Seven Elegies: Robert William Zwicky (1927-1987)

The Horse Pull

Your Body

K. 219, Adagio

The Geology of Norway

Brahms' Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115

Cashion Bridge

Bill Evans: "Here's That Rainy Day"

Beethoven: Op. 95

Driving Northwest



One Version

Robinson's Crossing


Another Version

Glenn Gould: Bach's "Italian" Concerto, BWV 971

Small song in praise of ears

Small song for the voice of the nuthatch

Small song: Prairie

Small song to oneself

Small song:Mozart

Small song: Laundry

from Music and Silence: Seven Variations

Late Schubert

Practising Bach


If There Were Two Rivers

From Distant Lands

The Art of Fugue

Schumann: Fantasie, Op. 17


Autumn Again

An Abridgement of a Conversation with Jan Zwicky



Arcing across thirty years and seven volumes, Jan Zwicky’s poetry has always been acutely musical (and sensitive to the silence out of which music comes). In the compositions in Chamber Music, the first anthology of Zwicky’s poems, one may perceive the attunement of her vocations: poet, philosopher, violinist. Her poetry both praises and relinquishes the earth, bearing witness to the fierce skies of the prairies and the freezing rain of the West Coast. Enacting the virtue of clarity prized and defended by her explicitly philosophical work, this poetry is both resonant and integrated. It is also formally diverse, ranging from the singular focus of the lyric ode to suites of variations and fugal structures, from polyphonic textures to the sprawling reach of narrative gestures. Throughout, one feels the deft hand of an adept using powerful metaphors to explore themes of colonial violence, environmental devastation, spiritual catastrophe, and transformation.
Resisting Western philosophy’s exclusion of imagination from civic life, Zwicky’s poetry is noteworthy for the tension it achieves between the abstract and the personal, the general and the particular. Meditating repeatedly on themes of love and grief, this poetry is at once passionately committed to the lucidity of its utterances and the fidelity of its images.