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Earthly Pages

The Poetry of Don Domanski

By Don Domanski
Edited by Brian Bartlett
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature, Poetry
Series Laurier Poetry Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554580088, 78 pages, August 2007
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554582075, 78 pages, April 2011


Dangerous Words by Don Domanski

little by little the thistles suffer on the hill

bare trees enter the river

the wind takes the earth and blows

it drop by drop into your ear

you are ashes mixed with rain and sleep

leaves rustling in a closed hand

a mouse dropped out of a cloud

dangerous words pass under your window

words that no one has ever used before

you follow them into the woods

your find three words building a fire

one word skinning a rabbit

and another word far off in the shadows

pissing on a violet

what do they have for you

these five elves these little men

this little sentence in the forest?

they have but one knife between them

one hat one coin one pot

and a dark bag full of spoons

what good are they to you?

what can they give you

that you don't already have?

if you touch them

you touch a hanging bell

and a small tongue wakes in the grass

to speak to you to give you a name

to call you tulip or pincurl

or doll's breath

which means you'll never see

your home again not your parents

or their love

which means you will always whisper

but never speak

never escape these little men

these words burning their supper their rabbit-water

in an iron pot.

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Earthly Pages: The Poetry of Don Domanski, selected with an introduction by Brian Bartlett

Foreward | Neil Besner

Biographical Note

Introduction: The Trees Are Full of Rings | Brian Barlett




The Sacrifice

Sunrise at Sea Level

One for an Apparition

A Netherpoem

Sub Rosa

Snowbound Letter

Visiting the Grandmother

At Daybreak a Hairsbreadth Turns to Blue


Hammerstroke II

Dangerous Words

Looking for a Destination

The Sleepers

Love Poem on the Sabbath

A Perfect Forehead

The Ape of God

The God of Folding


Fata Morgana

Epiphany Under Thunderclouds

Before the Plague and the Breaking of Fingers

Lethean Lock Mnemonic Key

He Leans Homeward


Taking the Train to Fredericton

The Passageway

Walking Away

What the Bestiary Said

Sentient Beings

Sleep’s Ova


Afterword: Flying Over Language | Don Domanski



With The Cape Breton Book of the Dead, Don Domanski emerged as a remarkable new voice in Canadian poetry, combining formal conciseness with broad cosmic allusions, constant surprise with brooding atmospherics, and innovative syntax with delicate phrasings. In subsequent collections, Domanski’s poetry has deepened and expanded, with longer lines and more complex structures that journey into the far reaches of metaphor. Now, with Earthly Pages: The Poetry of Don Domanski, the long-awaited first selection from his books, readers have a chance to experience the full range of his work in one volume.

Editor Brian Bartlett, in his introduction, “The Trees are Full of Rings,”, discusses Domanski’s engagement with nature and the transformative power of his metaphors; his poetic bestiary amd mythical underpinnings; and his kinship to poets like Stevens, Whitman, and Rumi. Like these poets, Domanski is drawn to borderlands between the physical and the spiritual, the unconscious and the conscious. His poetry finds a home for demons and angels, spiders and wolves—and for kitchens and back alleys, forests and stars.

In language both fluent and hypnotic, Domanski maintains an awareness of both the magnitudes and the minutiae that live beyond language. In “Flying Over Language,” an essay written specifically for this volume, the poet explains that for him metaphor is one way to suggest the wealth of being that poetry can only point toward.


``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

``Disarmingly forthright, Domanski's exploration of intuition is inviting. ''

- Paul W. Harland, Journal of Canadian Poetry

``Bartlett's selection of poems provides a most helpful introduciton to Domanski. Bartlett's opening essay explores sources and affinities . .. without diminishing the poet's originality. Bartlett . .. also looks at the range of his work, both the allusiveness and the reach into space (from critters of the forest floor to the stars) and time (back as far as the origins of life). ... The volume concludes with a concise, powerful essay by the poet himself, an exploration of his ideas about intuition, about language (`language itself is transient, and the usage we lean so heavily upon is nailed to thin air'). ... The core of the book is poetry, thirty-six poems that illustrate Domanski's genius, his ability to nail meaning to thin air. The poems introduce us to a universe rich and strange and full of perilous seas, and the metaphors persuade us that it is our own. ... Traces of the invisible are everywhere visible in this poet's work, and that is an earned paradox. ''

- Bert Almon, Canadian Literature