In poems that are both world-weary yet suffused with a moral force, Adam Getty gives us the perspective of the common man, but gives it in an uncommon voice -- a voice of quiet, contemplative directness tinged with the fierce integrity of one who has lived the experience.
Reconciliation, Adam Getty's first book-length collection of poems, is a work of astounding maturity and depth. In poems of uncompromising honesty and gritty realism, he captures the experiences of hardworking industrial labourers, poor families and the homeless, and grapples not only with the physical toll of such lives but also with the internal conflicts that arise under such demanding conditions. Getty's vision does not end at the realism of the Hot Mill and the slaughterhouse -- there is a visionary quality to these tough, visceral poems that intimates a staunchly held belief in something more than the physical trials one must endure through life. In the tradition of People's Poetry, but with an added mystical dimension impressively realized, Adam Getty renders in poems both stark and vivid the human spirit that rises above, and sometimes falls beneath, the weight of life's circumstances.
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Adam Getty was born in Toronto and currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario. He has had his poetry published in journals in both the USA and Canada. His first full length book, Reconciliation, won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best first book of poetry and was shortlisted for the 2003 Trillium Award. Repose was cited as one of the "best volumes of verse in 2008" by the Winnipeg Free Press.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
I no longer fear you.
In this seething tumult
that rises to my throat,
stings my eyes,
I am not afraid:
in your black hands, cradled
in your disastrous arms.
Cast me adrift: I will still
ride your knees. Drown me
and I'll swallow you.
Starve me, dispossess me:
it is you who trickle
out the windows of my skull,
down its bloated hills.
Take this tiny vessel of being
and shatter it
against the rocks that hem you in;
it is you I slide into.
I am not afraid.
It is years since I first learned to think through
this sad-eyed image, his scream suspended
between us. I see him now in dusty lanes,
between sagging houses, in a Galilean village,
perhaps Cana, after a wedding,
or Capernaum, looking for fishermen.
For just a moment he stops, closes his eyes
and feels his feet, cracked and worn like leather;
he notices spasms in his thighs and
hears a groan no longer confused
with the complaints of others. Hand is lifted
to brow and the fingers tingle with
what feels like blood but is sweat. He turns
to look at the multitudes but the air
between them is crowded with heat. Then
a cool wind comes down from Galilee,
bringing with it the salty taste of whimsy:
he announces to the throng that he will
go to the stand of olive trees
outside town to pray. Stepping away,
he forbids even close friends to follow, for this
is a new request -- kneeling among
shafts of darkened light
closing his eyes to the hum
of the wind through leaves to still himself,
this image imagines he has fled:
the green sheaves rush at him, pouring water
into an emptied cup. He breaks
snails in their olive shells between his teeth,
agitated, longing to strip everything away
and plunge, naked, into the waters. Like the snail,
he knows the long, patient crawl and drag
of the sea, the deep silence below
the thrashing surface. But Cephas will come
in his little boat of humanity, with the firmness --
not the stillness -- of a rock, a chain
for his neck, saying: Be this,
or nothing--I will drag you to every corner
of the suffering earth. The image pulled
to float on the service of the raging waves.
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