HANDWRITING

Ondaatje, Michael

ISBN 10: 0771068778 / ISBN 13: 9780771068775
Published by Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1998. dj, 1998
Hardcover
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About this Item

SIGNED hardcover first edition - First printing. True first edition of this collection of poems about love, landscape and the sweep of history in this Canadian writer's first home: Sri Lanka. SIGNED on the title page. Notes. 78 pp. Fine in a fine dustjacket. Bookseller Inventory # 60981

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Bibliographic Details

Title: HANDWRITING

Publisher: Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1998. dj

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

"Tumultuous, vibrant, tragic and over too soon." --Newsday

Handwriting is Michael Ondaatje's first new book of poetry since The Cinnamon Peeler. The exquisite poems collected here draw on history, mythology, landscape, and personal memories to weave a rich tapestry of images that reveal the longing for--and expose the anguish over--lost loves, homes, and language, as the poet contemplates scents and gestures and evokes a time when "handwriting occurred on waves, / on leaves, the scripts of smoke" and remembers a woman's "laughter with its / intake of breath. Uhh huh."

Crafted with lyrical delicacy and seductive power, Handwriting reminds us of Michael Ondaatje's stature as one of the finest poets writing today.

Review:

Sumptuous, steamy, downright sexy: on the blush-o-meter Ondaatje scores a 10. Those who can't get enough of his melodious prose--most notably in The English Patient, which earned him the Booker Prize in 1992--will find the same lyrical genius in his verse. In his 10th collection, Ondaatje transports us to his childhood home of Sri Lanka. With strikingly sensuous imagery, he conjures a land of bangles, cattle bells, stilt-walkers, and a 1000-year-old buddha "buried in Anuradhapura earth, / eyes half closed, hands / in the gesture of meditation... roots / like the fingers of a blind monk / spread for two hundred years over his face." As the title suggests, Handwriting is an elegiac tribute to the ancients who in "wild cursive scripts... spent all their years / writing one good book"; whose "physical yearning / became permanent" and "desire became devotional." In his Sanskrit and Tamil love poem, "The Nine Sentiments," Ondaatje not only proves most definitively that music is the key to unlocking a reader's heart, but also argues for poetry's healing powers in times of strife:

The brush of sandalwood along a collarbone
Green dark silk
A shoe left
on the cadju tree terrace
these nights when "pools are
reduced by constant plungings"
Meanwhile a man's burning heart
his palate completely dry
on the Galapitigala Road
thinking there is water in that forest
Ondaatje's final poem, "Last Ink," explains why the need to preserve human experience through art is as instinctive as the desire to die in a lover's arms. Dealing with large-scale emotions and scenes of love and war, these are poems that strike to the heart. --Martha Silano, Amazon.co.uk

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