Publisher: Ekstasis Editions
Published: August, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-77171-103-6 (pbk.) 978-1-77171-104-3 (ebook)
Price: $23.95 CDN/US
Status: In Print
Shimmer Report tells of a couple who do not fall in love so much as ascend together into love from their own dark places. He, a poet, musician, teacher; she, a visual artist and author, has also had to endure the psychiatric system. Life and love are but a shimmer—but this is a report on hard realities, as well as on flashes of colour, delight, and whimsy.
Years of suffering
like gas into flame
have drawn air
into your light—
a leaping, lambent figure
in mist, burning bright
PRAISE FOR SHIMMER REPORT
In the texture of Campbell’s verse, I’d point to a fusion of the modern narrative-reflective lyric with “metaphysical” poetry, in the sense of “the Metaphysical poets”. A wonderful poem, “For All That”, resembles Donne’s “The Flea”. Like “The Flea”, Campbell’s poem is about a humble, even untoward, physical experience between lovers, and there’s even something of a sharing of blood, as with the flea bite. Campbell’s narrator is cutting an ingrown toenail that’s been torturing his lover:
…the silver blade
hooks under, and I squeeze.
A sound like clump—a muffled clip—and the claw
from your soft foot,
lined with blood.
There is even Donne’s method of moving the lines along partly by sonic resemblances, and then gaining emphasis and extended emotional resonance by shifting from short, narrow vowels contained by staccato consonants to open vowels and long monosyllables: like, clump, clip and claw run into “falls loose” and “soft foot” (itself a fine soft spondee), with “claw” standing between, with one end in each world. The line about cutting sounds like cutting, and the two lines that follow it, which together correspond to it in length and make up the second half of a diptych, a disguised couplet, sound like falling and landing softly. And this movement is underpinned by the division of the idea into the two lines. After this, the last lines of the stanza return from sounds and actions to things seen with a more than photographic intensity of image, and a truly poetic intensity of feeling what is noticed.
~ from “Out of a Certain Mud, We Rose”: Review of Brian Campbell’s Shimmer Report by A.F. Moritz, Vallum, Issue 14:1, 2017
Brian Campbell’s “Shimmer Report” is a mature book that espouses a vision of love and harmony as a possibility in our discordant fearful everyday world. It is a book that possesses valuable insight and true poetic richness.
~ from Review of Shimmer Report by Anne Cimon, Montreal Serai, Apr. 2017
Within [his] various styles and frameworks, Campbell writes of the very personal without soliciting pathos by dipping into the tattle-tale sensational. Similarly, he writes appreciatively of his Montreal environment but never lets his poetic “still lifes” descend into the realm of what some of us like to call “tourist brochure poetry.” All this and more works to Shimmer Report’s benefit, and the book comes across as a genuine manifestation of good creative intentions… It’s up to us fellow artists and informed readers to appreciate and celebrate works like Shimmer Report.
— from Real Art: A Review of Brian Campbell’s Shimmer Report by R.W. Watkins, Pattern Recognition, #1, 2016
“Shimmer Report is a book of searing honesty and shy grace. To read its poems becomes an act of witness as Brian Campbell explores his city and his heart, evoking the requirements of love as well as the vexed nuances of survival. I admire his courage.”
~ Mark Abley
Brian Campbell’s Shimmer Report is a book of artistic power and accomplishment, wisdom, and pleasure. Among its many dimensions, both of form and of subject matter, a notable one is its many wonderful developments of the theme, “Out of certain mud, we rose” (“The Arrow”): aspiration surviving and blossoming in the all-too-human facts of damage, discouragement, external barriers, accidents, etc. Campbell expresses this with a light but certain touch in many poems. Sometimes there’s the downright mordant handled with witty irony: “It’s Not that I’m Growing Older but…” begins offhandedly but rises to an entirely different sort of poetry in the last stanza (“childlike worms”!). I think the fiery “Salt” is a favourite of mine in this regard, and I’d compare it to some of the poems of Cortázar on somewhat similar themes. But the tender realistic poems on speaker and wife are, in a different mode and tone, equally strong.
~ A.F. Moritz
“In Brian Campbell’s Shimmer Report, the poet asks, “What dilemma is this now?” Using urban, multi-language Montreal for a backdrop, and a palette of telling details in shades of wit and compassion, Campbell explores today’s creativity and relationships through echoes and upshots of complicated pasts. These are poems of love and survival—in spite of, and because of, the curiosities of the world we live in.”
~ Maxianne Berger
“I very much enjoyed Brian Campbell’s Shimmer Report, particularly the honesty and openness with which it deals with the poet’s life with his partner. Deeply personal, each poem has a ring of authenticity that makes it truly compelling.
Many poems in this volume I found very moving. I loved “Apnea Suite”; other standouts include “Cell”, “When She was Young”, and “Kindling”. The “Through Our Ills” section is so powerful that I kept thinking: this must be really difficult to even write about and then to read on the page afterward. It takes courage to open one’s self like that.
I was also impressed by the obvious care and craft that has gone into these poems, from the keen and precise eye for detail, the attention Campbell pays to sounds, to the structure of the lines and stanzas and the play, rhyme and assonance within the lines. Campbell is not just a good storyteller, but a very good poet who knows what he’s doing.
Shimmer Report is one of my best poetic reads in a long while. Many of these poems I will re-read and enjoy again.”
~ Glen Sorestad
“It is a daunting task to find the right words to talk about those of a poet, especially when he has so moved you with his as Brian Campbell did. So I’ll stick to the gist of it: I loved Shimmer Report. I am in awe of the way the author manages to convey the intimate and universal nature of this tale of love and survival. By the way he paints true love in vivid and pastel colors that make it raw and pure. By his ability to pick details that reveal the whole human experience as a poignant balance between struggle and contemplation, awareness and confusion, fear and desire. But mostly, I like that the good guys win in the end—sorry for not writing “spoiler alert”—and that love and kinship happen to people who least expected them and can therefore really treasure them. I am happy for both Poet and Muse, partners in art, and grateful for the journey.”
~ Geneviève Picard, Montreal visual artist, former journalist with Voir, L’Actualité; winner of 1993 Prix Jules Fournier
Brian Campbell’s Shimmer Report is a book of beautifully written poems, filled with wonder, love and a kind of sad-eyed wisdom. There is also something courageously honest about them. A few of many highlights: “Harangue”, wherein the poet goes on a walk with his friend/lover through the city, features an extraordinary counterpoint of inner afflictive thoughts and external detail: the whole poem moves from despair to a moment of grace so, well, gracefully. “Apnea Suite”: probably the only love poem written involving a CPAP machine. “After Turmoil”: a poem that captures a sense of reprieve after crisis: how one can enter into that state bleary eyed, wobbly and as open as a child. Woven through the order of the poems is a powerful narrative about a couple’s struggle for growth and harmony, overcoming great odds. Personally, I think this book should win an award. I hope it does.
~Michael Connolly, Teacher, Toronto
You teach me fondle of instep
caress of toes
repose of hands
on shoulders arms—
Where I’m from
people sit apart
from discrete and separate
Arches shore up.
Fingers point, grab
summon or push back.
So I learn willingly
fondle of instep
caress of toes
repose of hands
on shoulders arms
After turmoil of February darkness
where every day threatened suicide
at last a break in the cold wind—
we go out in light jackets, into sun,
among puddles and mounds of melting grey,
bare hand holding bare hand,
among the sidewalk crowd, singled, coupled, equally
bewildered, find an address, go upstairs where
Aphrodite, a thérapeute, directs us down stucco halls
to a round room. There we float an hour on warm
salt water, among palm fronds, streaming
harmonies, a Lethe of flutes and pianos.
“Had I been a baby, or had cancer, would you have felt as
taken hostage? Lack of empathy
—it’s all part of the stigma.”
“Jocelyne, terror doesn’t leave much room
for empathy. And that was terror.”
“Let’s discuss it later, ” you say wisely.
Later, I buy you a necklace of twining silver grapes,
made by an artisan d’ici, we find a coiffeuse who
expertly shapes your thinning hair,
we eat in a French bistro, gaze out
at passing strangers, raise glasses
to our hopes. To survival.
So we go out over the grass,
the strip of sand,
into the waters
you seeking red and yellow stones
to make a frame around a picture
me, here with you, simply seeking.
On surface tension, water bugs
sketch sunlit lines, arrows that glisten,
a random geometry flickering all over this lake.
I move toward a cluster
to observe their mechanism. They skitter off
in several directions, a flock
of darting commas and semi-colons
at the advance of this colossus. At last
I see one up close,
right before my thigh. I’d imagined wings,
but it has tiny pin-like legs
that thrust skim a body flat as a catamaran
or skipping stone.
Through the water’s glassy membrane
I see another level of darting
—tadpoles, between the crystal ceiling and muddy floor,
dull brown and gray, wriggling in flight.
Feet sink to the ankles, prickly slime between the toes.
Didn’t realize it was so slooshy.
A dragonfly helicopter whirrs past, veers away.
You come with a dripping handful of stones.
“I want them like this, no bigger than this.”
VIDEO POEM: “VASE” from Shimmer Report
Me reading a selection of poems from Shimmer Report at Lapalabrava Reading Series, Montreal, Apr., 2015
When She Was Young
Plants on my Writing Table
Cheer And All
Drift Dharma in December
THROUGH OUR ILLS
Toi, Moi & Café
You Dream We Are Together
Through Our Ills
You Told Me To Write A Love Poem
FOR ALL THAT
It’s Not That I’m Growing Older
Joe Dubois 1929-96
For All That
Green Satellite Shimmer Report
Wedding in Blue