I bought Don Domanski’s book All Our Wonder Unavenged about a year after it had won Canada’s most prestigious literary prize, the Governor General’s Award, at the end of 2008. Last night, a year and a half later, I finished it. I had loaned it mid-read, impatient to share its joys, and then it took a while to come back to me.
It was only the second book of poetry I’d read. I’ve enjoyed poetry as much as anything, but almost always in an anthology or periodical. I don’t know what possessed me to buy it, but I bought two – one for me, one for my Dad. Turned out they were the last two in the store, and signed.
I’ve been googling around about this poet today, as I always do when something moves me, and have reached the conclusion that Don Domanski is succeeding. Sure, I could have concluded this from the GG, but hear me out.
As I contemplated my experience of his poetry, I identified various sources of enjoyment. The subject matter – explorations of existence in pastoral settings – would tend to appeal to me. The accessibility of the language and structure welcomes the relative neophyte like myself. But what was lighting it up like transcendental truth? For these poems were fully true, true in every way they could be. Not just “I recognize the metaphor” true, “I agree with the observation” true. The magical property of the poems is that they seem to communicate the full essence of a thing.
Now, my point about succeeding. Here’s Domanski talking to the CBC:
“What I’m doing is making my way to presence…There’s a very deep truth there that strikes well below the thinking level, a connection richer than language, which can give words a more inclusive depth and reach.”
C’est ça! The transportational quality of the poems – drifting you here, and here, and here – does seem to originate from something richer than language.
This experience grows out of reading the poems for a little while, so I don’t want to include an excerpt or single poem here. But here are a couple of links to Domanski and his work: