Arctic Circle Songs

Arctic Circle Songs

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Arctic Circle Songs
Fifty "Delta Hushpuppies"

Robbie Newton Drummond

6 X 9 inches, 78 pages

Penumbra Press Poetry Series, No. 29

WITH DRY WIT AND SURGICAL PRECISION, Arctic Circle Songs traces the poet-physician's circuit through the western Canadian Arctic as a voyage towards acceptance (and sometimes even reconciliation) of the jarring contrasts of the Far North: the confusions and sorrows, the joys and hardships, the violence and the beauty, the deafening silence and wild singing, the facts and fictions of late-modern life as they reveal themselves in the unravelling tapestry of the so-called "last frontier."

In Fort Norman Community Hall
Simon Nerysoo pulls a stick
in the Slavey game of sticks,
places a bet, wails softly, sways
to a frenzy of climbing beats.

Under the dark eyes of the women
in bright plastic windbreakers
three drummers pound circles.
The beat of black wings,
the soft hammers of rain,
the roar of wind in night fire,
the hush of snowfall in spruce
stretches taut the skin of the drums.

Outside in the mosquito
evening on the cliff bank
of the big river under Bear
Mountain the drizzle hisses.

Constable McSimmons, his cruiser
stopped, chats up three girls,
Dene eyes dark and bright,
awkward with summer.

The main road snakes beyond
between the Catholic church,
the Hudson Bay, the post office,
the school—buildings with enough
gravity to hold a nation
of wanderers close.

The Priest and the Teacher Have Tea (Fort Norman, N.W.T.)


Robbie Newton Drummond


Robbie Newton Drummond is a physician and poet who lives and works in the Crowsnest Pass in southwestern Albera. He spent two years in the western Canadian Arctic (1985-87) working at the Inuvik General Hospital and doing clinics in the surrounding small communities of the Mackenzie Delta and the Beaufort coast. Although he has published widely in Canadian literary journals and magazines, and is the author of a chapbook Owl in a Cage (Circle Five Press), Arctic Circle Songs: Fifty "Delta Hushpuppies" is his first collection. A major Canadian poetic debut.

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