The Last Poems of Raymond Souster (Contact Press)

20141124_090755

Raymond Souster’s literary executor Donna Dunlop has just published his “Last Poems” under the Contact Press imprint. Donna tells me that she and Souster had discussed taking over publishing his books together prior to his final diagnosis. While¬†discussing what name to use for the press, Souster put forward “Contact.” Come Rain, Come Shine: The Last Poems of Raymond Souster is available or purchase here.

20141124_090736

The book is 299 pages, with 2-3 poems per pages, meaning that there are some 700-800 new poems here. My copy arrived only yesterday (with “Contact Press” listed as the sender on the package, something I never expected to see in my mailbox), so I haven’t yet had an opportunity to sit down with it properly. I read through the first thirty pages or so last night before bed, and they include a number of poems about aging and death that hit hard in the context of his final years.

Funeral

Surprised to find

that he can’t afford it

right now,

he is forced

to fall back on

his only option

of putting his death

accompanied by his burial

on hold for the present.

I don’t know what other plans Donna has for the revived Contact Press, but I look forward to seeing what is done. The Contact Press site explains its purpose as “to keep Raymond Souster’s poetry and name alive.” Are there perhaps other new volumes planned? Or some reprints? It is an exciting development. Thanks for your hard work, Donna!

Senior Citizens

What did we ever do

to anything or anyone

to deserve to end up

as old and decrepit

as this?

Stairs leading to Willard Gardens Parkette in Toronto were recently named in Souster’s honour as well.

[Edited to correctly reflect how the name “Contact” was chosen for this project. My thanks to Donna Dunlop for the information!]