Press Release

"Nancy-Gay Rotstein 's poems give pleasure by their display of intelligence,
sensitivity, compassion and warmth. Her eyes see clearly, and sometimes impishly, what others never see at all or don't wish to. ... What also is manifest is her heartfelt enjoyment of simply being alive..."

— Irving Layton, in Foreword

Poems Selected and New

Nancy-Gay Rotstein


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," comments Layton.

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 poet.

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.

Praise for Nancy-Gay Rotstein's Poetry

"She uses words as if they were diamonds, selecting them sparingly and polishing them until they capture the exact image... or landscape that she wants."
- Canadian Press

"Her language is sparse and clear.... Her imagination, her keen eyes and ears are very much her own.... Even if her lines were arranged like prose they would still be poetry."
- Globe and Mail

"Rotstein's poems say what we all feel momentarily — an awesome awareness of being alive. It is poetry for the people without any sacrifice of craft."
- Ottawa Citizen

"There's a maturity which puts the writer into the first ranks of our poets. Although her canvas is much wider and broader today, the practitioner of this demanding craft has not lost the intimacy and insight into personal experiences and emotions that touch us."
- Toronto Star


National Author Tour
For further information and author interviews contact: Charles Alexander (416) 488-7102

Poems Selected and New
By Nancy-Gay Rotstein
Published by McClelland & Stewart
Publication Date: March 23, 2002
Cloth: $19.99 • ISBN: 0-7710-7590-1
Nancy-Gay Rotstein © 2002