The Natural History
Christopher Dewdney has been working on the The Natural History for two decades. He describes it as a book about high summer, though according to his natural history the fingers of summer reach in both directions of time: as early as March and as late as November. This is a sensual book, in love not only with foliage and creatures, weather and landscape, but also with the textures of language, the rhythm of English itself; not just Anglo Saxon and Germanic, but also its southern Latin heritage blowing like a scientific sirocco up from the Mediterranean. A compendium of particulars written from the inside of its subject, The Natural History evokes the timeless moment of perception itself. And while it is set in the present, the whole geological past of the planet is represented, so that an event occurring on a summer day in current time will be juxtaposed with an event occurring during the Silurian epoch, some 440 million years ago. Revised, augmented, and presented in its entirety for the first time here, The Natural History is one of the most beautiful and erotic bodies of work this country has to offer. As Stan Dragland has commented: “The New-Old World of this long poem… is sensuously and conceptually so immediate that orgasm and epiphany are one in it. This is writing, and reading, as immersion.”
“There is no one else in this country… who has so persuasively chipped away at a rock face to reveal the poetry striated just beneath the surface.… These intelligent, uncompromising sensual poems are not for the rapid reader, but anyone who lingers with them a while will be amply repaid.”
— Quill & Quire
Christopher Dewdney has published twelve books of poetry as well as two books of popular non-fiction about culture and technology. He has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award three times and has won first prize in the CBC Literary Competition for poetry. His most recent book of poetry, Signal Fires, was published in the spring of 2000 by M&S. Christopher Dewdney lives in Toronto, where he teaches writing at York University and is a contributing culture and media panelist on TVO’s Studio Two.