Canadian Poetry Online top banner link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page

Robert Priest. Introduction (or why I wrote this), from The Mad Hand

Introduction to The Mad Hand

Being a poet I must do my rounds, checking up on language, finding out the dead words, re-exploding the holy dynamites, keeping the reverberations and musics fresh. As a Priest it is also my job to let the light in, to be a reflector, to open up curtains. Sometimes a word is too rigid&mdashlike an icon—it blocks the light of its own origin, it doesn't shine through. So I have to soften it up a bit, throw it into the corner and find out where its weak spots are, batter it until it falls away like an empty mask. I picture myself as a kind of scientist mixing around the mental elements, distilling them and exploding them, looking for answers in the inkblots, hoping to reveal the roots of certain patterns, strings of words, prayers, curses hoping to take the masks off things. Everything though is totally by chance&mdashI'm mixing chemicals like a blind man with paint, never knowing which colour I will set off next. Also I am trying to break out of my own silence. The violence here is never towards you—it is only towards the language and the ideas.


Finally I wrote this book because this life is the only one we have and I wanted to answer to the charge that poets always criticize. I wanted to plaster the propagandas together into mad tirades of affection, re-activate old hopes, suggest buildings, methods, means to profit by love and love-making, genuine and holy. At the same time I am also an antenna and a barometer&mdasha singing barometer, a kind of tenor radar sending out these bleeps with love ... with love ... hoping for the best.


Robert Priest's works copyright © to the author.


Canadian Poetry Online bottom banner link to University of Toronto Libraries home page link to Digital Collections home page link to University of Toronto Library catalogue link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page