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Russell Thornton has published five previous books of poetry, with House Built of Rain being shortlisted for the BC Book Prize and the ReLit Poetry Award and Birds, Metals, Stones & Rain shortlisted for the 2013 Governor General’s Award. Thornton won the League of Canadian Poets National Contest in 2000 and The Fiddlehead magazine’s Ralph Gustafson Prize in 2009. He lives in North Vancouver.

The Hundred Lives

Quattro Books
2015 Shortlist
Canada

Judges’ Citation

The poems in The Hundred Lives burn with a rare blend of rhythmic intensity and hard-earned experience that make them at once timeless and contemporary; on page after page, in line after line, we hear the ancient, communal music of language sung through a consciousness of maturity, loss, and restless spiritual hunger.

The poems in The Hundred Lives burn with a rare blend of rhythmic intensity and hard-earned experience that make them at once timeless and contemporary; on page after page, in line after line, we hear the ancient, communal music of language sung through a consciousness of maturity, loss, and restless spiritual hunger. In a very real sense, Thornton’s lyric narratives and dialogues – of travel, of Lazarus and the Song of Songs, of romantic love – dramatically enact Robert Frost’s notion that the greatest of all attempts is ‘to say matter in terms of spirit, or spirit in terms of matter, to make the final unity’. Thornton speaks with utter conviction and credibility to forge a personal vision, a ‘pathway through the apple’, to an always-richer understanding of human experience. Whether the poems take us to Greece, where gypsy women move ‘like living tarot in the street’, or to the memory of a beloved grandmother ‘out in the sailing ship of her wedding dress. Her ashes’, always The Hundred Lives puts us in intimate touch with ‘first fire, first waters’, with the tenderness and pain of vital engagement.