A Gloss on Our Painted Gods is concerned with the idea of translation: of poetry as translation, as a way of reinventing, retelling, transforming, and understanding the world around us, our mythologies, our notions of the self and the other. A tightly crafted first book, it explores and responds to the cultural artifacts of Western history: Greek and Roman texts, Renaissance paintings, and early 20th-century European poetry.
From Orpheus to Arachne’s Suitor, these poems evoke universal themes of life and death; love and hate, wins and losses…. These lines are not soon forgotten, but linger.
Barstad obviously loves language, collecting and setting rare words like jewels into his poems… Like his three contemporaries, Barstad’s got fire.
The poems of A Gloss on Our Painted Gods are extremely well-written, intelligent, and intellectual… This is a young, urbane, sophisticated poet’s first book: there is nothing naive about it.
Barstad is eloquent in the manner of Ondaatje, conveying emotions that relate to love present and past.
Barstad’s poetry revels in language, intelligence and wild imagery… Cruelty, treachery and pain are often explored in these rich and cadenced poems.
Barstad’s poetry often strives with ambitious historical subjects: the resonance of moments in classical history with our own time, for instance, or the long shadows cast by great poets of the past.
From heroes of Greek myth to birds in an aviary, from Caligula to Hearne at the Coppermine. The world Barstad gives us is deft yet exacting: each poem is caught, held, run through with a claw. This is a fine, lean collection of work.
To read Barstad’s poetry is to delight in the strange aviary of the imagination. His writing is a marvellous blend of the absolutely ordinary and everyday with the fanciful, the remarkable, the bizarre and the magnificent.
About the Author
Eric Barstad currently lives with his partner Erin and their two cats — Finnegan and Pickles — in Brooks, Alberta. Eric completed his MA in English and Creative Writing at the University of New Brunswick in 2001 and now runs Shadow Box Creative Media, a web development company that builds websites for non-profit organizations.
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