Nancy-Gay Rotstein's poetry has
been hailed for its powerful imagery, perceptive insights and
universal appeal. Her newest collection, THIS HORIZON
AND BEYOND:Poems Selected and New
(1975 - 2000), just published by McClelland & Stewart,
presents a poetically crafted tapestry that pays homage to the
joy of life itself.
"Her poet's sharp eye detects the hidden diamond or pearl..."
writes Irving Layton in the Foreword to her new collection. "She
has the rare gift to see things as they are, the gift of the prophet....
She is able to give her observations the quality of a vase or
a statue by a Renaissance artist, and make the temporal, the timely,
into something transcendental and eternal, which is the aim of
all great art..."
THIS HORIZON AND BEYOND brings together landmark
poems of Rotstein's previous collections -- THROUGH THE EYES OF
A WOMAN (1975), TAKING OFF (1979), and CHINA: SHOCKWAVES (1987)
-- with those appearing in print for the first time. Included
in this volume are poems from her travels through China as one
of the early Westerners to enter that country after the Cultural
Revolution as well as those poems capturing the stages in a family's
life written over a twenty-five year period and purposely held
for publication as a unit.
This exciting new collection, arranged into sections titled Sightings;
Compass Points: Eastward, The Equinox, Borders; and The Cycle,
provides a probing look in verse at "this horizon and beyond."
Rotstein captures an awareness of time, of history, and of a sensibility
beyond the surface of what she is describing. There are poems
that are celebratory of life and light-hearted in spirit alongside
those which are haunting in depth and meaning.
With intensity and passion, she paints indelible scenes of Canada,
its vast landscape and seasonal beauty, and addresses as well
its challenges and concerns. We are at her side in countries such
as Greece, Italy, Japan, Israel and the Caribbean, where, with
poetry in place of a camera, she captures in print vivid poetic
"snapshots." all with stirring reality and impact, intertwined
with her own emotional reactions to the view she so eloquently
describes. She juxtaposes poems describing unspoiled nature with
those portraying its destruction though mankind's constant —
and often unintentional and careless — acts to both land
and water, and she reflects on the ecological legacy we leave
those who follow.
We join her in the pleasures of family life that radiate through
its circles of love, from birth and childhood to parenthood and
the aging years. When THROUGH THE EYES OF A WOMAN was published
25 years ago, Rotstein received enthusiastic response to the family
poems it contained, and at the recommendation of book critics
and other poets, she decided to hold further writings about the
family for later publication as a unit in order to offer the reader
the full range of family life. Reprinted in THIS HORIZON
AND BEYOND is one of that early volume's most requested
poems, FOR TRACY. Layton commends her children's poems both for
"the maternity they exhibit, a feeling of caring and warmth
and the kind of insight that only love gives" and for "their
universality. She has compressed all mothers' feelings about their
progeny with an impressive freshness and vigor."
The section Compass Points contains the poetry of her unique China
adventures. She writes of her three and half-day ferry journey
down the Yangtze River through the Gorges, travelling with hundreds
of villagers from the area; takes us inside a school classroom;
and introduces us to such intriguing individuals as the Ambassador
to Beijing and a city Block Captain. Rotstein, who had been granted
a special literary visa in 1980 by the Chinese government, was
able to travel without restriction in that country. When the resulting
poetry was published in CHINA: SHOCKWAVES, she received praise
not only for her vivid descriptive power and attention to detail,
but also for an awareness of a China in the throes of change.
"It's a rare collection in that it is one of the few, in
poetry or prose, by a Westerner that goes beyond the surface of
China," wrote United Press International, and The Scotsman
praised her for "a prescience which now seems extraordinary.
... Rotstein realized as early as 1980 that China was heading
for another political revolution."
Throughout the collection are her colourful, insightful poem portraits
of people, from beloved family members such as NANA to poems like
THE VISITOR, which, as Layton points out: "explode with delicious
irony and nuanced meanings." He praises as well "her
gift to see into the core of people and events," as in POWER,
where she writes about "sophisticates of illusion / they
have captured our world / and hold us all to ransom". "I
know of no more disturbing and pertinent remark about the contemporary
world than what I find in these three expressive lines,"
In bringing together some of Nancy-Gay Rotstein's finest work
to date, THIS HORIZON AND BEYOND is a celebration
of the mastery craftsmanship, poetic vision, and unique, dynamic
voice of an internationally acclaimed and highly accomplished
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy-Gay Rotstein has been internationally praised for her poetry
which includes the collections China: Shockwaves, Taking Off,
and Through the Eyes of a Woman. Her recent first novel, Shattering
Glass, has been published in Canada and the United States and
translated into eight languages. She has been appointed to the
Board of Directors of The Canada Council, the National Library
and Telefilm Canada. She has a master's degree in history, a law
degree and is a member of the Ontario Bar. She lives near Toronto.
Her new poetry collection, This Horizon and Beyond, is also being
published in Australia and in the United Kingdom.