Poetry Pause x Biblioasis: A.F. Moritz — A Slender Presence

Poem Author: A.F. Moritz Poem title: A Slender Presence Poem: In the hot late afternoon I read you, Vergil, in my heart, your book not in my hands, amid crowds in the reflective oven of cement—crowds half naked as nymphs in a blue and ochre mosaic fountain basin, but sweating, suffering, rejoicing in the excuse for nudity, ignoring as much as may be their ugliness, paining for relief. Without knowing it, they were existing in your Rome. Everywhere in my world, my today, is in your Rome. Here, as there, white gray slabs milled from nature clad every side except the sky and redouble the sun, making it evil. But in your day, everywhere but that one city—prophet of my world all one city—was vineyard and field, a vista waving, oak and vine, the herd and hive, the many dark forests, homes of hamadryads, abductions—stories— monsters—the boar, the snake. . . dark forests and the fountain-like clear lament always there for the naked dead girl and boy. But today is concrete and this summer not many read you on bench or bus and I too will soon go back to the songs of my time. You are dispersed in the humid atmosphere like a snowflake that fell in the wrong season and disappeared before it touched the ground. Your voice from beauty to horror, resurrection to death, makes whatever contribution to this July a snowflake left over from early spring can make, whatever irrigation it is that flows to cracked meadows from the light snow that fell in a boy’s gaze ages ago one May at Mediolanum. End of poem.  Credits: “A Slender Presence” appeared in Riddle Fence copyright © 2018 by A.F. Moritz. “ A Slender Presence” also appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2019 (Biblioasis, 2019). Reprinted with permission of the author. Author biography (150 words or less): A.F. Moritz lives in Toronto. His most recent books are The Sparrow: Selected Poems (2018) and Art of Surgery (2019), a chapbook in the Vallum Chapbook Series. He has published twenty books of poetry, which have received honours including the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Award in Literature of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Fellowship, Poetry magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize, and selection to the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets; three of his books have been finalists for the Governor General’s Literary Award. He is poet laureate of Toronto, the sixth poet to hold this office. Author photo (optional): photo credit Steve Payne Biblioasis is a literary press based in Windsor, Ontario  committed to publishing the best poetry, fiction and  nonfiction in beautifully crafted editions.  Best Canadian Poetry 2019 edited by guest editor  Rob Taylor, series editor Anita Lahey, and  advisory editor Amanda Jernigan (Biblioasis, 2019)

About Best Canadian Poetry:

Launched in 2008 by Tightrope Books with former series editor Molly Peacock, the Best Canadian Poetry Series features fifty Canadian poets annually, drawn from Canadian literary journals magazines, both print and on-line. Each year, a distinguished guest editor (2008, Stephanie Bolster; 2009, A.F. Moritz; 2010, Lorna Crozier; 2011, Priscila Uppal; 2012, Carmine Starnino; 2013, Sue Goyette; 2014, Sonnet L’Abbé; Jacob McArthur Mooney, 2015, Helen Humphreys, 2016, Hoa Nguyen, 2018) selects the poems based on their intellectual, artistic, or inventive merit. The editorial taste changes with each new volume. The special Best of the Best Canadian Poetry: Tenth Anniversary Edition celebrates ten stellar years of the series.

As of 2019, the series is being published by Biblioasis and currently thrives under the stewardship of series editor Anita Lahey and advisory editor Amanda Jernigan. Best Canadian Poetry ushers readers into the heart of the diverse Canadian poetry scene. The anthology is a must-read for anyone with a stake or interest in contemporary Canadian literature.