- Science like poetry... a rising new star. William Shakespeare and Wallace Stevens trace its passage across their sky. The Challenger explodes over the Atlantic as Halley’s tail disappoints a face behind binoculars. A young girl is sacrificed in turn-of-the-century Oklahoma. Ill-omens and portents, an annunciation and God’s wrath: for Stephen Brockwell this is The Cometology. In a book where the language of science is also the language of mystery and poetry, Brockwell writes about what illuminates and how we see, about accidents and calamities, about reverence, and “the people of the white noise making love.” Things are strange, Brockwell insists. His poems, like all successful poems, are aware of this and engage the strangeness with the only instrument at their disposal: language. Like the medical student who might study thin slices of tissue to better understand the flesh, Brockwell recomposes experience to make the strange manifest. Whether reinterpreting the world through geometry, learning the shapes that shape us or following an obsessive-compulsive into the library and listening to him rant about pop culture, the way he shapes his world with favourite films, and books, and music Brockwell’s latest collection catalogues what cannot last: “this page, your hands, earth.”
Stephen Brockwell grew up in the suburbs of Montreal and began writing poetry after a few too many tackles with a loose-fitting helmet. After high school, he began reading Irving Layton, David Solway, and Peter van Toorn. One of the few poets in engineering, medicine, or computer science who believed poems were both an acceptable model for reality, and at times more expressive than partial differential equations, at McGill he enrolled in as many English Lit courses as the Faculty of Science would permit. In 1985, Brockwell moved to Ottawa to pursue a career in information technology. His first book, The Wire in Fences, was published by Balmuir Book Publishing in 1988. Since then, he’s been living, working, and writing in Ottawa with his partner Nicole, daughter Danica, and son Mathieu.
Published: April 2001
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.