I was made aware of his work in a book review in the local paper. Rienzi Crusz. Poet laureate of our twin cities. Former Collections Development Librarian at the University of Waterloo. Native of Sri Lanka transported to a land of ice and snow. Divorced. Remarried. Strong family heritage. Devout.
I first made contact with him after sending a small collection of my poetry in the mail. He could sense the starry-eyed desire to publish, and the absolute ignorance of this writer concerning market realities and current trends in writing.
Both on the phone and in person at a local grocery store, he tempered with words to the following effect:
'Always write what you want to. There is no creative freedom greater than poetry. Form, appearance and subject are entirely up to you. Feel strongly before putting pen to paper. It is immensely therapeutic. Don't panic about getting published. That is a long, patient piece-meal process.'
In his work one senses immense debt to parents; a periodic longing for the sights, sounds, smells and heat of a former life; a strange pride in facing cold Canadian realities with resourcefulness and humour; a sympathy and pep-talk for the visible minority and for the aging.
The man is courteous, insightful and piercing in presence. His images transport us.
Song of Myself
Have you carved the perfect heart
from raw unseasoned wood,
revealed the dark meat
of the new Caesars, grieved
for the wobble and limp
of small men walking
under cold colonnades;
to match an embracing kiss,
close a vein,
probe an adamant eyelid,
salve the pain
in a throbbing nerve;
Named the fire
of the undressed sun, the fever
in the eyes of immigrant men;
of elephant and ice, children
pulsing through a continent of snow,
the eagle hovering
in its ether currents.
But have you shared
in the shattered bird,
of the thorn that guards the rose?