For the past four decades, Robert Bringhurst has been writing some of the most powerful poetry in English. Distinguished by engaged and passionate curiosity, a wide-ranging intelligence and true originality, his poetry has sometimes been mistaken as austere and opaque. In fact, his work engages in ideas about the human condition, myth, the natural world, language and philosophy, and is unusual for having both a pared simplicity and profound wisdom.
His watchword is clarity, and the elements he considers crucial to effective typography could just as easily be looked for – and found – in his poetry: ‘invite the reader into the text; reveal the tenor and meaning of the text; clarify the structure and the order of the text; link the text with other existing elements; induce a state of energetic repose, which is the ideal condition for reading.’
There is such relish for the tactile, physical nature of words, for spare, elemental imagery and for rhetorical weight – in the voice, and the sound of the voice – that each poem has a sense of gem-like purity. While Bringhurst’s work may not be the most fashionable poetry being written today, it is certainly amongst the most compelling in its truth, power and beauty.