I hesitated. For weeks.
Then I was ready, it seemed,
in the middle of a hurricane,
and my mother made her trip to St. Mary’s
in a motor launch.
—Bert Almon, from “Hesitation before Birth”
A Ghost in Waterloo Station
(Brindle & Glass, 2007)
Bert takes his time. He plays the waiting game with his poems, just as he did with his mother boating across the flood to the hospital to be born. Hesitation before birth, or the hot metal of the shot tower frozen on descending into an astonishing analogue for the poem itself. Read Bert Almon’s poems; the climate of waiting pervades. Waiting, or permitting us to wait, for the right image to take hold—”not a classical image, but indelible” he writes of a Yosemite Sam-headed octopus marinating itelf in freshly squeezed lemon juice.
It has been a pretty good year for Bert Almon. After an inordinate wait—even for the landlocked poet “waiting for the gulf stream”—Bert’s much anticipated book came out in the fall of 2007 by Brindle & Glass: A Ghost in Waterloo Station. The wait was worth it.
Then, this April, Bert won the City of Edmonton Book Prize at the 21st Annual Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts. Then we are told he is on the shortlist for the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry—the poetry category of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta’s 2008 Alberta Literary Awards—for the same book. (The WGA’s An Evening with the Authors this Thursday at Greenwood’s Books will showcase an impressive roster of authors shortlisted for the Alberta Literary Awards including Bert Almon.)
Now, while Bert’s latest streak of good fortune coincides perfectly with the publication of A Ghost in Waterloo Station last fall, let’s don’t be too hasty in dismissing the not insignificant boost to Bert’s rising star afforded by his performance at The Olive Reading Series…also last fall. Do take the time to check out Waiting for the Gulf Stream and you will begin to see why all the popular and critical attention for A Ghost in Waterloo Station. Cause for hesitation, and further reading.