Tuesday, July 26, 2005

rob budde’s A Sleep of Faith (2005, wink books)

Very much in the vein of his Prince George, British Columbia mentors Barry McKinnon and Ken Belford, former Winnipeg author rob budde has started producing small edition chapbooks in his new northern home, from my american movie (2004) and Software Tracks (2004) to the most recent A Sleep of Faith (2005). The author of a number of poetry collections, as well as two novels, his last collection of poetry was the impressive traffick, published in 1999 by Winnipeg’s Turnstone Press (with another collection, flicker, apparently forthcoming). A collection of long poems / sequences fit under the umbrella title “traffick,” Budde’s long prairie play is both serious and irreverent, following traditions long established by bpNichol, Dennis Cooley, Robert Kroetch and George Bowering.

The notion of play has always been an important element of budde’s poetry, and this piece is no different, working a dart and a hopscotch skill through such reflections as the line “sleep as if sleep exists anyway” (n.p.). As well, in A Sleep of Faith, budde employs the use of grey text in places, highlighting phrases within the text as a motif for alternate readings, as in this section of the poem:

preemptive sleep, just in case

sleep like at a
poetry reading, polite, filled with
linguistic virtuosity, easing your way to the
wheezing cheese platter

staring at white paint and not knowing the

repose via repository

sleep is overcoded; sleep is underfunded

sleep as if shopping for something you already

sleep as if your regular breathing is an integral
part of the elaborate ecological of the entire earth
and its convenience stores

sleep in moss, mushrooms burgeoning from your
eyes, a sphagnum cornea

In her piece “Every Exit Is an Entrance (A Praise of Sleep)” that appeared in Prairie Fire (Vol. 25, No. 3, Autumn 2004), Anne Carson writes, “I want to make a praise of sleep. Not as a practitioner–I admit I have never been what is called ‘a good sleeper’ and perhaps we can return later to that curious concept–but as a reader.” She later goes on to say:

It is in these terms that I wish to praise sleep, as a glimpse of something incognito. Both words are important. Incognito means “unrecognized, hidden, unknown.” Something means not nothing. What is incognito hides from us because it has something worth hiding, or so we judge.

budde does move his sleep as something hidden and unknown, while at the same time, understanding that “faith” is something that can not necessarily be known but can be developed; can be explored but never explained. The whole notion of faith, certainly, is to believe in something that can never be proven.

a court order for order when none will be had,
sleep as a public protest, a concerted civil
disobedience, a police line broken–sleeping off
the chaos, sleeping off the anarchy

Copies (if they are still available) of A Sleep of Faith can probably be wrangled if you write him, & maybe even send him a chapbook or two of your own in exchange, c/o 751 Tay Crescent, Prince George BC, V2M 3V3. Otherwise, check out his online poetry journal stonestone, or the blog that he’s started recently.

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