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IN A TIME OF NO SONG
In a Time of No Song is visionary poetry by a compelling charismatic voice, the beauty between and in the words, weightless. Silence, song and the sacred inspire the lambent language, achieving an eloquent grandeur in the way the author animates each poem, constantly connecting the outer with the inner, the familiar with the distant, the limited with the vast, the realm of thought with the realm of life, non-sentient things with sentient ones. This collection had been acclaimed as a singular voice virtually unprecedented in the English language.
As A.F. Moritz observes in his introduction to the work: “In a Time of No Song will impress readers with its poetry of pure sentience and godlike laughter. The mysticism of the source is here, but most of all, I think, we will remember the great enactments and themes of this book through its omnipresent, brilliant tributes to life.”
“The poems are a brilliant and compelling world unto themselves, constituting (constituted by genius and visionary insight) what we used to call an alternate reality, one which hasn’t quite lost all touch with the more common reality we all inherit and inhabit. They are quite extraordinary, delicate and beautiful, lifting the reader into another, more ethereal, and perhaps enduring realm. The poems are quite beautiful, spiritual if you like, almost paradisal, and can take their place in a certain visionary tradition.” -C. Marks, Poet, Literature Instructor York University
“By the first few words I read, I knew it would be a beautiful experience, so brilliant I almost cried, such a gift from the gods as you have, that make men so light weight. It’s beyond gift – your heights of genius, depth, originality and expression. ” -Simon Green, Belle Isle, France (poet, translator Claude Simon and Céline)
AMERICA & OTHER POEMS
Long before the plethora of books on Sept 11th, and the ill- advised and unilluminated incursion into Iraq, America & other poems, spoke poignantly and poetically, predicting the folly of the new world order and American hegemony culminating in 2003.
Prophesied in the title poem “America” and in the pivotal companion piece “As the walls came down, the latter foreshadowing the rising Russian oligarchy and concurrent Islamic extremism. The work received international accolades and was heralded in a review from City Lights, gifted by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as “potent and persuasive; by George Whitman of Shakespeare & Company, ‘another Walt Whitman has taken root in Canada”; “crackles with prophetic energy” by Canadian Literature as well as a review penned for Poetry Canada “America written in the modern idiom could (should in fact), topple an empire”.
The first line of America was written in a small waiter’s bar in Havana in 1986, perhaps close enough and far enough to see both shores. A forthcoming edition, Pax Americana and Other Poems, finds its genesis here, in the earlier and more incendiary and iconoclastic prose which perhaps anticipates the later and less gregarious poetic. The voice is born of the peonage of youth, and embodies more of the verdancy of a broken love letter, than manifesting the manifesto of a singular and unsparing indictment.
In one of the many prosaic pieces, Bien wrote: “Half the world starves for meaning, while the other half starves”. This once heretical view has now been validated by the United Nations which recently confirmed that the apparently emancipated West is dying of excess, more at peril than the emaciated world that it exploits, in the hermeneutical transition from imperialism to globalism, as he says in his new work of consciousness teachings entitled “Songs of Non-Separation: “a royal prerogative into a corporate prerogative, a pirate’s code of `take what you can and give back nothing’, the confraternities of the wages of fear.“ Reviews for the book were unanimous in their assessment of the poetry’s clairvoyance and merit.
“prophetic political poems, an astute premonition of 9/11” – A.F. Moritz
“a splendid savaging of our post-Soviet amorality” – George Elliott Clarke
“At the end of the millenium, a clear an authentic voice” – REC, Belgrade
“It is worthy of a biblical prophet at his angriest” – Juan O’neill, translator
“prophesying, and apologizing about man and his struggle for authenticity … succeeds in updating Ginsberg’s famous polemic, speaking in a distinct voice” – McGill Daily
PROSODY AT THE CAFE DU COIN
Prosody at the Cafe du Coin is a convergence of a myriad of the poet’s early influences together with later Rilkean echoes and the more sublime handiwork of that subtle verse. The Apollonian of Seamus Heaney (who recognized the title poem of the work) and the Dionysian of Irving Layton (who praised his earlier work), have been woven together for readers who ubiquitously found substantial merit in the lyrical and more formal craftsmanship of this collection.
In this book, Bien explores his relationship with formal language and metaphor, with a rare lyricism and life experience. As one review of the work exclaims: “Many of the more formal poems of the ‘Prosody’ collection are an unadulterated joy to read…conscience and consciousness. A most fundamental drama is being enacted in this work….that undying impulse, common to all humanity, towards beauty and towards transcendence.” Bien’s precise lyrical voice explores the infinite possibility of love and the redemptive nature in what he calls “the ordinary occasion of grace”.