Book Review: "Skylight" by Antony Di Nardo
My review of "Sklylight" by Antony Di Nardo (Ronsdale Press, September 2018) is published in the 2019 Winter Issue of "Big Pond Rumours".
Big Pond Rumour is a literary magazine published in Sarnia, Ontario.
Here is the review.
BOOK REVIEW: SKYLIGHT BY ANTONIO DI NARDO
Afterglow, it can be argued, is one of the markings of thought-provoking poetry: a sense of having entered a territory that still draws our thoughts towards its incandescent core once the book is closed.
The light of the afterglow imparted by poems included in Antony Di Nardo’s “Skylight” is not a fiery one, but one of steadying serenity and tempered joie de vivre.
The book is divided in four sections: “ – Opus Erectus –“,” - Fool Hen - “, “ - May, June, July –“, “- Keep Frozen – “ and “- Illuminations –“. “Skylight”, a poem that serves as a prologue to the entire volume, ushers in the theme of a sky “boxed in the light.”
That “skylight”/”sky light” the poets juggles with, thoroughly at ease, interacts with the climate of this poetry collection and is, at times, oddly reminiscent of Horace’s odes – a mirror of the landscape turned inwards to filter both the passing of time and an exultation of the present:
“As for me it’s the sun and its heat today
first of November, that keeps me working,
hanging up leaves: ironic, neurotic,
forgetful, pressings and opinions,
written on the back of these trees.”
Embedded in the minutia of fauna and flora emblematic of Canadian scenery that permeate some of his verses, deep sediments of poetic and experiential wisdom echo in Di Nardo’s writing:
“I miss my thesis, my dress code:
The years at Sherbrooke and McGill.
The years I have put to rest.
I miss remembering testaments, interiors, retrospects.
I miss the shrill of something new.
The ozone of experience.
But I am sentimental:
And so I leave nothing behind.”
(From “Hard Rain”)
Are Di Nardo's verses wise then? Hardly.
In “Skylight”, Di Nardo brings forth an impressive array of techniques and writing styles – sonnet, shorter-styled poems, prose poems, poems in which the formatting of verses (whether inline, indented or spaced out) shapes the tonality of the book.
This is the vector that allows the author to step lithely from elegy to improvisation, from humorous notes to wordplay, repetition and alliteration; it is also one of the most engaging facets of Antony Di Nardo’s poetry.
It’s the subtle alchemy, wrought from the author’s words, however, that gives “Skylight” a distinctive note: a melodic quirkiness that cannot easily be decomposed but which keeps us turning the pages of his poetry collection.
“She’s footloose, flight-lost,
Answers to Fool Hen.
A dust of dawn in feathers.
Autumn on her palette.
She is half the sun.
The other half
bristling on her gown
She’s totally Morriseau
about size and sorrow.”
(From “Portrait of a Grouse”).
Northrop Frye once said: “There is a curious law of art... that even the attempt to reproduce the act of seeing, when carried out with sufficient energy, tends to lose its realism and take on the unnatural glittering intensity of hallucination.”
In “- May, June, July –” (a long poem, which won the Gwendolyn MacEwen Poetry Competition for Best Suite of Poems 2017) airy lines make way to such intensity:
on a pair of lips
with a shade
we’ve named rose”
The colours scarlet, rose and vermillion, which the poet calls the “flannel of the Fall” traverse the canvas of the volume and blend in with the colours of pre-dawn or noon hours:
and that special turquoise mid-day light
with never a shadow, never a shadow,
only that of the moon when you leave.”
Antony Di Nardo seems to be particularly aware of the moments when light transitions from one state to another, under the influence of shifting sidereal bodies.
It’s easy to imagine the author, up late at night, waiting for such transformative moments under the glass of a skylight or beside a large window:
“It’s strange to be here at my Walden, benched, blanched
by the morning moon.”
Undercurrents of Canadian poetry are invoked by Di Noardo in some of his poems, with references to poets such as Don McKay and Earle Birney, in a light-hearted confrérie of poetic themes.
“- Illuminations –”, the last section of the volume, is made up of prose poems, most of them conveyed in one long sentence. It is an interesting construct that imparts the poems an eagerness to create a story, or a mini-sketch which can be retold in one heartbeat, thus magnifying the immediacy of the poetic discourse.
“SKYLIGHT” is the title of the last poem bringing us full circle from the opening page in the collection.
There is an intrinsic soothing quality to “Skylight” that carries over from its lines and flows towards us in an unabated stream.
So, perhaps, next time you are driving out in search of a quiet moment, away from it all, looking to breathe in fresh, tranquil, air, bring along a copy of “Skylight”. It is the perfect reading companion for an attempt at regaining inner harmony.
About the Author:
Antony Di Nardo was born in Montreal and obtained a post-graduate degree in English literature at the University of Toronto. “Skylight” is his fourth book of poetry. The author now divides his time between Sutton, Quebec, and Cobourg, Ontario.
Antony Di Nardo’s website: https://www.antonydinardo.com
Skylight by Antony Di Nardo Ronsdale Press
September 2018 ISBN: 978-1-55380-544-1 (soft cover) $15.95 CDN
ISBN: 978-1-55380-545-8 (ebook)
ISBN: 978-1-55380-546-5 (pdf)
Skylight cover photo – Ronsdale Press.