6 X 9 inches, 84 pages
scissor, paper, woman
Penumbra Press Poetry Series, No. 47
THIS EXTRAORDINARY COLLECTION from Ottawa's Marianne Bluger, a poet of growing international stature, shines with the clarity, intensity, and precision of image that are the hallmarks of her unique style.
Nude With Scar
Louis Dudek writes: "very fineevery poem rings like a bell ... this book is ... imaginative, profound, and deeply moving."
Diane Hartog: "Marianne Bluger has a purity of spirit that shines through her very original poetry. Read 'The Zen Master's Wife' and be shocked by the psychic violence of her images, and stunned by the beauty of their resolution. Read 'Nude With Scar' to confront the stainless steel truth 'which always was / the dire joy of the Greeks.' Read Marianne Bluger. She's the real thing."
George Johnston: "Marianne Bluger has been a favourite poet for more years than I can now remember, and she has just produced a new collection that seems as spirited, quirky and full hearted as ever. Many poets can move me but I cannot think of another poet who moves me to laughter and tears, often together, in quite the way she does."
Christopher Wiseman: "It's the images and depth and modesty and dignity and insights and sheer humanity that distinguishes Bluger."
Her seventh volume of poetry and her second with Penumbra Press, Scissor, Paper, Woman is Marianne Bluger's sharpest poetic read to date. It tells all.
In the night thunder
two seeds swim
jets inky death
spawns wriggling gamete life
But only when a scrubbed Scots surgeon
swathed to the eyes
and trained in ruthless hope
lifted his blade and cut
her blue-veined marble
did she at last learn this
Into her cracked crystal eyes
gaze now and read
how late in a late
millennial nuclear age
alone and afraid
in a stainless steel hospital bed
she glimpsed that truth
which always was
the dire joy of the Greeks
Marianne Bluger has a corpus that includes ten books of poetry, numerous essays, and countless poetic fragments that have surfaced in publications across the globe. She was born in Ottawa (1945) and has lived in various small towns along the periphery of Ontario. Bluger took up poetry seriously while attending McGill University in Montreal, where she studied under poet Louis Dudek. After graduating with distinction, Bluger entered medical school. Her studies were cut short when she left school in 1968 to marry Zen master, Samu Kim, with whom she went on to have two children.
Blugers first published work, The Thumbless Man Is at the Piano (Three Trees: 1981), was a collection of her early lyrics, a form she remained committed to for over a decade. In 1997 Clearcut and Tamarack (Carleton University Press) marked the first book-length appearance of her ongoing engagement with Japanese poetic forms. In collaboration with photographer Rudi Haas, Bluger produced a work of disciplined, lyric vision one that foregrounds the shared temporal and epistemological terrain of both haiku and image. This work was followed by Gusts: Selected Tanka (Penumbra Press: 1998), the first tanka collection ever published in Canada. With these publications, Bluger earned her place at the forefront of nascent Canadian haiku and tanka traditions now healthy movements that are, in many ways, still guided by her voice. As proof of her continued influence, the editors of a new publication dedicated to contemporary English-language tanka chose Gusts for the title, describing this "as a lasting tribute to Marianne, who has been such a pioneer of tanka in Canada."
Beyond numerous poetic contributions to the haiku and tanka forms, Bluger has been instrumental in establishing an infrastructure for the development of a tradition in Canada. She co-founded Kado Ottawa, a group of over thirty haiku poets living and writing near and in the city. She was treasurer of Haiku Canada from 1988-1991 and the author of its constitution in 1997. She is a member of the American Tanka Society and has been an adjudicator for its annual awards.
Her most recent book of tanka, Zen Mercies Small Satoris (Penumbra Press: 2005), is yet another example of the meticulous poetic sensibility that motivates her craft. Each poem in this collection is the site of a negotiation between the tanka form and its content, between the poet and her poem. The elemental, the daily rituals of exchange, the here and now these motifs enact a poetics of dialogue, relation, respect. To Bluger the tanka is neither a fetish, nor an exotic object; rather, it is skilled poetic work.
Marianne Bluger has won several awards, including the 1993 Archibald Lampman Award (Canada). She won the supplementary prize in the Canadian division of the 2002 Hoshi-to-Mori Co. contest (Japan) and submitted a prize-winning haiku at the 2003 Master Basho Festival (Japan). Her work has been translated into French and Japanese.
U of T: Canadian Poets