Shimmer Report

Shimmer Report

Publisher: Ekstasis Editions
Published: August, 2015
Poetry
ISBN: 978-1-77171-103-6 (pbk.) 978-1-77171-104-3 (ebook)
Cover: Paperback
6×9
Price: $23.95 CDN/US
96 pages
Status: In Print

To order

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

Review

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 (in Pattern Recognition, #1, 2016.)

Authors

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

Other Readers

“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

SAMPLE POEMS:

TOUCH

You teach me     fondle     of instep
caress         of     toes
repose           of     hands
on         shoulders     arms—

Where I’m from
people       sit       apart
incline       heads
from discrete   and   separate
chairs.

Arches shore up.
Toes spring.
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

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.

EMBLEM

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

VASE from Brian Campbell on Vimeo.

READING

Me reading a selection of poems from  Shimmer Report at Lapalabrava Reading Series, Montreal, Apr., 2015

CONTENTS

DÉCOR

Décor
Touch
Chrysalis
Apnea Suite
Subdiv
When She Was Young
Harangue
Screens
Dabble
Cell
Brocanterie
Mountain
Parquet
Cat Mirror
Purr
Plants on my Writing Table
Deadpan
Cheer And All
Salt
Drift Dharma in December

THROUGH OUR ILLS

Toi, Moi & Café
Echoes
Lethargos
You Dream We Are Together
Through Our Ills
You Told Me To Write A Love Poem
Ing Thing
Kindling
After Turmoil

GETAWAYS

Emblem
Tree: Versions
Parlons Français
Body Suite
Resort Town
Guitar
Sylph
Evening

 FOR ALL THAT

It’s Not That I’m Growing Older
Variety
Joe Dubois 1929-96
Late
For All That
Dabble
Tango
Memento Mori
Vase
Green Satellite Shimmer Report
The Arrow
Wedding in Blue