Hockey Player Sonnets

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The Hockey Player Sonnets
Overtime Edition

John B. Lee

6 X 9 inches, 80 pages

Penumbra Press Poetry Series, No. 54

WELCOME TO THE HOCKEY GAME OF LIFE, just as the title suggests, these are hockey poems by a hockey player. This read takes you through the full three periods, from iced-over ponds, to small arenas, to the limelight, through fights, falls, and euphorias, straight to the heart of the game.

He falls unhinging from his feet
and takes two skaters
with him
like a tree
falling among trees.

Some of the same
creaking and cracking as he goes down
and we listen
almost lumberjacks
in the dangerous timbering moments
of his romance
with gravity
hockey sticks flying in the air
like knocked-off branches

and after the clattering demise
of his weighty long-boned, slow-motion imperative—

the unbelievable
hush of birds.

Tall Bruce falling in a Hockey Game


"Here is a wealth of flavorful language and image to delight tastes for boyhood memory, father-son dynamics, fan worship, the violence and athleticism of the game, the lure of locker rooms and team bus rides, for player cameos and memento mori...
It is a poetry rich in simile, challenging in syntax. Great is the reward for slowing down to appreciate how the words are being worked in these reports from the field (the ice!) on 'the myth of boys and the truth of men.' Lee's imagination plays threads of connection among the life and landscape of farming in rural Ontario and games played in bars and kitchens as well as in the dangerous, romantic theater of pond and rink. For a hockey-player reader it is a collection of 'epiphanies'.'"
 Aethlon Magazine

John B. Lee


Born and raised on a farm near the village of Highgate in southwestern Ontario, John B. Lee now lives in Brantford, Ontario. "I like poetry to be accessible," says Lee, who taught high school for ten years before 'weaning' himself into full-time writing, reading and submitting in 1988. "I take some pride, not because I deliberately go out to be accessible, but I'm lucky to have that aspect in my voice" (Hamilton Spectator).

Lee's poems have garnered over sixty honours, including: the American Poetry Association's Annual Poetry Award (1985-86), runner up in the People's Poetry Award for his book Hired Hands (1987), first place in the Nova Scotia Poetry Awards (1989), first place in the Roundhouse Poetry Awards (both 1989 and 1990), the shortlist for the Charterhouse Poetry Award of London, England (1990), CBC Radio's Tilden Award for Poetry (second place in 1993 for All the Cats are Gone and first place in 1995), and the People's Poetry Award twice (1993 and 1995). Besides hockey and cats, his other dual literary-and-life passions include the Beatles and detective work.

More about Lee at the League of Canadian Poets

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