Monday, February 06, 2012

The Pangborn Defence

There are times, as a publisher (as I am sure is also the case with writers and their books) when I begin to worry that the books we are publishing have little life beyond the short window of buzz (& some, despite our best efforts, don't even manage buzz, but are effectively (or at least seemingly) stillborn) we're able to build around them at publication.

So I always find it gratifying when there's a google alert for an older book and it's not merely another eBay bookseller listing a review copy of the title for pennies on the dollar.  Such was the case this weekend, when what might be the most intelligent review we've received for Norm Sibum's 2008 The Pangborn Defence was brought to our attention.  It leaves reason to hope many of our older books are still finding their way in the world, one reader at a time.

Here a taste of the review, from

...what I find different in this book is its worldliness — not in the sense of that boring old divide between the sacred and the secular, so much as in its responsivity to the world. Sibum seems to have provided his own answer to the question, “What does it take to get poets to shake their fists at power?” His answer seems to be: The Bush Administration.
Well, not that alone. Reality TV; the rise of capitalist globalization; but also, one senses, the creeping on of the years, the visible collapse one witness less in one’s own life than in the lives of one’s friends and enemies, as their hair grays and their marriages collapse and their bad habits continue on into the shadow years.
There is disgust and rage in these pages, but a salutary one: The influence of Pound on Sibum’s work was apparent to me in The November Propertius mainly for his juxtaposition of the ancient and mythical with the quotidian world of waitresses and drunk pals, as well as in his treatment of language; here, though, he has gone further, he has made his work overtly, unapologetically political.
With The Cantos, that move was in many ways disastrous, but I dare to think it is less so with The Pangborn Defence. Happily, though Sibum has brought his poet’s tatty shoes to the streetcorner and mounted a soapbox, we find to our relief that he has come out not in praise of the Mussolinis of our day, but rather to condemn them; and the weary, unhopeful tendency here gives way, just often enough, to rage that that feels pent up, that one gets at least this much: one is not alone, in one’s own horror and disgust at how the century began.
Worldliness, a salutary disgust and rage (along with various beauties): Gord gets it absolutely right.

Read the full review here.  

1 comment:

gordsellar said...


I'm glad you enjoyed my ramblings. It's a great book, and I'm glad and grateful that you published it.

By the way, I got it at The Word in Montreal, I'm pretty sure. They had a lot of Mr. Sibum's work in their poetry section when I visited last (which was a few years ago, but I got several other books by him then. Now, if only I could find my copy of The November Propertius!)