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Children of the Outer Dark

The Poetry of Christopher Dewdney

By Christopher Dewdney
Edited by Karl E. Jirgens
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature, Poetry
Series Laurier Poetry Hide Details
Paperback : 9780889205154, 82 pages, February 2007
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587155, 82 pages, October 2009


The Lynx in the Rapids by Christopher Dewdney

It is a grey, rainless summer afternoon. You are

walking through a northern hardwood forest beside

a river. You hear a baby crying from the brush near

the rapids. As you approach the sound, the hairs on

the nape of your neck prick up. You step onto a

rocky clearing beside the rapids. A wet lynx sits on

the flat rock verging the cataract, its back to you.

The lynx turns its head to look at you over its

shoulder. Its eyes are almost entirely pupil, the thin

rim of an elliptical, gold iris barely visible around the

black crystal caverns of its pupils. You have stood

here before. In memory you scream magnetically as

you pluck the irises from your own eyes in a mirror.

The iris-tissue like gold foil slipping off pupils that

are dark openings onto an unknowable, alien

emptiness. The sirens begin to wail. You turn to run

as the world starts to break up. The lynx wheels and

leaps in one bound onto your shoulders, sinking its

teeth into the back of your head. You are drawn

whole into the black vacuum of the lynx's mouth.

The lynx transforms into an enormous horned

serpent, its body containing a universe of stars.

The world is a prison that has shrunk to the

outline of your body. You are now free to move.

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Children of the Outer Dark: The Poetry of Christopher Dewdney, selected with an introduction by Karl E. Jirgens

Foreword | Neil Besner

Biographical Note

Introduction | Karl E. Jirgens


The Owl



Sol du Soleil

In the Critical Half-Light

In a Manner of Fact

Into the Maelstrom


That Night at Lake Huron

On Attaining Remote Control

This Is of Two Worlds

Poem Using Lines Spoken by Suzanne


Dreadlocks at the Helm


Human Consciousness

The Immaculate Perception

Metaphor Templates

Homonyms as Linguistic Necker Cubes

Depth Sounding, Lake Windermere

The Owls

Ten Typically Geological Suicides

Halcyon July in Algoma

Demon Pond

The Lynx in the Rapids


Winter Solstice

Winter Hawk

The World Poem

Hollow Wind, Empty Stars

Seven Electrical Angels

Gravid Lux

Fitting the Language Prosthesis

Language Acquisition Trauma

Afterword: A Note on the Poems | Christopher Dewdney




A four-time Governor General’s-award nominee for both poetry and non-fiction, Christopher Dewdney is celebrated internationally as a writer and a visionary and is best known for his particular imagining of place and memory. Beginning with Paleozoic fossil formations in southwestern Ontario and moving through eons of natural history to cityscapes and the digital present, Dewdney’s poetics encapsulate often surreal experiences from radical and epiphenomenal perspectives. His writing vibrates in a standing wave between science and art, reason and myth—embedding geology, neurophysiology, linguistics, and post-digital technology within a play of transitory viewpoints. Children of the Outer Dark provides a geological survey of Dewdney’s poetic strata. The poems selected, along with their order of presentation, serve a critical function to mine diverse layers of development in Dewdney’s career. This collection will reward all those who seek inspiration and will provide teachers, students, and other writers with a short natural history of one of Canadas essential poetic minds.


``The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming. ''

- Paul Milton, Canadian Literature, 193, Summer 2007

``The texts . .. challenge the anthology by collecting larger, more representative samples of the poet's oeuvre and by pairing creative work with an essay by a contemporary critic and an aesthetic statement by the poet. This innovative format certainly succeeds in making the text more accessible and comprehensive. The result is a timely reminder that poetry is, in fact, enjoyable and might just be able to, as Dewdney writes, ``perforate everything around the shape of the real. ''. .. [A]s a university instructor, I would use this text and applaud Besner's attempts to remedy contemporary poetry's lack of popularity. Children of the Outer Dark will, as Besner intended, appeal to a large and varied readership. ''

- Emily Carr, ARC Poetry Magazine, 60, Summer 2008

``The poems in the collection, drawn representatively from the spectrum of Dewdney's career, `merge into/the details of the world' (`Seven Electrical Angels') in a consistently surprising and thoughtful manner. The resulting selection is a fascinating archive of the way in which those details have merged differenly over time--havin subtly remodeled Dewdney's poetics like a language remoder the brain. ... [Editor] Karl E. Jirgens'. ..observations are suggestive and the accompanying bibliography of critical sources constitutes an important contribution to the study of Dewdney's work. ''

- Adam Dickinson, Canadian Literature, No. 198, Autumn 2008