On Thursday, September 17, faculty, staff and students gathered for the first poetry reading of the year at Redeemer University College. Since 2001, Redeemer has had the privilege of hosting some of Canada’s most influential poets, including Don McKay and Lorna Crozier.
Ricardo Sternberg was the guest of honour for this reading. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1948, he has been living in Toronto since 1979, where he taught Brazilian literature until his retirement last year. Sternberg has published four books of poetry, including The Invention of Honey (1990), Map of Dreams (1996), Bamboo Church (2003), and, most recently, Some Dance (2014).
Sternberg read from each of his collections, taking the audience on a narrative journey through a barn, “Shafts of light on plaster walls, / rows of stalls like narrow, private pews,” to a mythical island off the coast of Ireland, to a darkened kitchen where a couple dances after the dishes are done.
Dr. Ben Faber, an English professor at Redeemer, commented on the power of Sternberg’s writing to take him to both the “real and imagined places” within his poetry.
In a book review for Some Dance, National Post’s Michael Lista describes Sternberg’s writing as “consistently shot through with sunshine.” Indeed, the tragic vein running through his poetry is streaked with light, often in the form of a humourous last line or a playful undertone. “If it’s successful I like to be right there at the edge [between funny and tragic],” Sternberg said.
This humourous edge kept the audience laughing during the question-and-answer session as well. While discussing his poem “Some Dance,” Sternberg noted that his mother thinks there’s too much drinking in this poem. “Critics,” he added, with a laugh and a shake of his head.
Listen to Sternberg read “Some Dance,” the title poem from his latest collection of poetry:
Sternberg is certainly a welcome addition to the list of renowned poets Redeemer has had the honour of hosting.
For more information on Ricardo Sternberg, visit his website.
Anna Bolton is a third-year Honours English (Writing) major