A Skeptic in Springtime

A Skeptic in Springtime wrestles with uncertainty and aging, hurricanes, gravity, and particle theory. Amid all the unknowns, “Still, the white-throated sparrow cries I’m here, here, here, here.” Rooted in the PEI landscape where he grew up, MacLaine’s gaze ranges farther afield to Assyrian myth in “Killing a Lassamu,” to the Song Dynasty in “Su Dongpo Makes Ink,” to art in “Claude Monet in the Waiting Room.” The book closes with a tribute to the late John Smith, former poet laureate of PEI. Combining keen observation of the natural world and the human condition, the poems in this collection contain “a universe which has leapt from nothing into something.”

April 1, 2024
Paperback 6 x 9, 96 pages, $18.95
ISBN 978-1-988692-72-2

These poems, in MacLaine’s own words, are “a conversation with the world,” sometimes skeptical and unsettling, often funny and tart, always intelligent and eloquent. Listen in—they bring “the sweep of things together,” from old farm fields that slope to the sea in his native PEI to the mountain peaks of Hokkaido.

—Harry Thurston, author of Ultramarine and Lost River

With his acute, painterly eye and metaphors that bear us past “the slap of fact,” Brent MacLaine shows us around his Island world, discovering an “immensity” that’s beyond “the end of all things field.” Employing a supple syntax and various forms, including sonnet and sestina and shaped verse, MacLaine moves between landscape celebration and the awareness that knowing that landscape, and the language that might convey knowledge of it, “frays.” Skeptical about the knowability of the visual, he contemplates “a wilderness never to be seen.”

—Anne Compton, author of Processional and Opening the Island

Photo of Brent MacLaine by John Sylvester

Brent MacLaine is a Professor Emeritus at the Department of English at UPEI and the author of six volumes of poetry. He grew up in the rural community of Rice Point, PEI, to which he returned after teaching at universities in Vancouver, Edmonton, China, and Singapore. His awards for poetry include a League of Canadian Poets prize, the Prince Edward Island Book Award, and the Atlantic Poetry Prize.