Don McKay is the author of eleven books of poetry, most recently Strike/Slip for which he won the Griffin Poetry Prize on June 6. He has won two Governor General’s Awards for Poetry and has been shortlisted twice for the Griffin Poetry Prize, most recently for Camber: Selected Poems, which was a Globe and Mail Notable Book of the Year. McKay is also known as a poetry editor, and he has taught poetry in universities across the country.
But close up it is more likely to be the commotion of stress lines swirling within each slab that clutches at the heart—each stone a pent rage, an agon. None of the uniform grey of limestone, that prehistoric version of ready-mix concrete, in which each laid-down layer adds to the accumulated weight that homogenizes its predecessors. Think instead of Münch’s The Scream with its contour lines of terror; then subtract the face. Or you could turn on the weather channel to observe those irresponsible isobars scrawling across the planet. Imagine our ancestors tracing these surfaces, whorled fingertip to gnarled rock, reading the earth-energy they had levered into the air. They had locked the fury into the fugue and car crash into the high-school prom. They engineered this dangerous dance. Better stop here. Better spend some time.
— Strike/Slip 39
“McKay doesn’t write about natural science so much as through it, using its terms and principles to explore the science of human nature. A poem about a hike through ‘the broken prose of the bush roads’ gradually, gracefully metamorphoses into a meditation on desire. . . . These exuberantly musical and shrewd poems are ecological in the fullest sense of the word: they seek to elucidate our relationships with our fragile dwelling places both on the earth and in our own skins.”
— New York Times Book Review