Change in a Razor-Backed Season

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9781554470105: Change in a Razor-Backed Season

Change in a Razor-backed Season is Michael deBeyer’s second collection of poetry. Throughout this collection, deBeyer charts an extended exposure to seasons and weather, focusing on the pervasive quality of the outdoors, its uncanny disregard for walls or roofs or notions of inside.

“I write outdoors, en plein air,” says deBeyer. “I walk around, writing into my notebook or directly into memory in cooler weather. Why write outdoors: walking helps establish rhythm, extra oxygen enhances creativity, and I think the lack of boundaries frees up imagination. While subconsciously these may be my reasons, I consciously write outside for those chance encounters with strange subject matter.”

“In Change in a Razor-backed Season, I’m engaged with perception and trust. It’s the difference between the first moment when one trusts one’s senses completely and the second moment when one questions the grounds of that trust that I’m most involved with. Between these two moments, there’s no interlocutor, no angel or devil on one’s shoulder undermining sensory perception; it’s self-imposed, but there’s of course no way to prove that. The book is open to doubt, and I felt that if I could write through doubt there would be poetic possibilities beyond. So this became a book of scepticism, but a positive scepticism: like a scientist who doubts for the sake of discovery.”

The collection begins on water, with whales, overcast skies and the politics of oceanfront property. deBeyer demonstrates a cinematic eye for the colour and thickness of light, and an ear for the precise dialect of hours and seasons. The second group of poems brings the outdoors inside, via cathedral doors, ghost towns and the last standing wall of a fallen house. Here the poet captures the simultaneous experience of alienation and continuation that characterizes such landscapes. These poems epitomize autumn, that season when civilization and its fall seem closer together than at any other time of year.

The final groups of poems deliver the collection’s climax and denouement. In the third, de Beyer wades deepest into sensory processes, pinpointing moments of understanding, rolling backwards and forwards in time, reinventing the arrival of information and offering instruction to readers who seek to conduct mental experiments of this type. From there we are invited to downshift into a bemused and occasionally whimsical sequence. Maintaining a close eye on his subjects, deBeyer makes room for wild pronouncements, declarations of love and dreamlike capers, before a final return to seasonal considerations that brings the collection full circle.

Change in a Razor-backed Season combines poetic engagement with scientific investigation and an inspiring sense of adventure. deBeyer’s verses delve beneath the skin, travelling optic nerve and cochlea, before resurfacing to venture up river and into the woods. His range and curiosity introduce binoculars and magnifying glass to the poetic tradition.

This book is a smyth-sewn paperback bound in card stock with a letterpress-printed jacket. The text was typeset in Requiem by Andrew Steeves and printed offset on laid paper.

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About the Author:

Michael deBeyer was raised in the farming community of Ayr, Ontario. His work has been published in a number of Canadian journals, including The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead and filling station. He currently lives in Fredericton, NB.

Review:

“deBeyer controls his poetic line beautifully, studding it with subtle but unpredictable seams of internal rhyme, assonance, and alliteration, and the book as a whole is woven together by a clutch of recurring thematic motifs. Many poets make a botch of things when they try to wax philosophical, but deBeyer possesses the intelligence and technique to get away with it.” Zachariah Wells, Quill & Quire

“He’s by no means a minimalist (his lyrics and prose poems are the same size as other people’s) but he is a clear and incisive thinker. Combined with a horror of the predictable phrase, this gives his work a special directness. These are poems about the tensions between confidence and doubt, urban and rural, sensation and analysis.” George Fetherling, The New Brunswick Reader

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