House of Anansi Press | $19.95 | 128 pages | purchase online
In these excellent poems, Heighton shows how technical mastery can merge with acutely relevant subject matter to great effect. In fact, when it comes to language, Heighton is a remarkably efficient poet: I rarely find, as I often do when reading Canadian poetry, myself mentally editing as I go along. Words here are too precious to be left out of place, whether his own or those of others.
The most salient feature of The Waking Comes Late is actually that Heighton’s translations—approximations he calls them—are spread throughout the book. His previous two collections featured separate sections of translations, ghettoizing them as it were and, I suspect, inadvertently inviting readers to ignore them. Here, ten translations from various Europeans—and Heighton should be praised for being one of the few Canadian poets who embraces translation as a regular part of his creative process—are woven throughout the book. This gives the collection a more organic feel, especially when one of his poems directly interacts with a translation, such as when a version of Georg Trakl’s “An End” leads to a poem about a Trakl suicide attempt, or when a translation of Anna Akhmatova’s “Lot’s Wife” gives rise to Heighton’s thoughts on Lot himself.
Read the full review on Arc‘s website!