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Nancy-Gay Rotstein

TODAY'S POET (April 14):

Nancy-Gay Rotstein received a Master's degree in Canadian history from the University of Toronto. She has an LLB degree from Osgoode Hall Law School and is a member of the Ontario Bar. Her first book, China Shockwaves, preceded the publication of Taking Off and Through the Eyes of a Woman. Her most recent collection, 2005's This Horizon and Beyond: Poems Selected and New, contains "an emotionally charged cycle of poems that, written over a 20-year period and purposely held for publication as a unit, captures the changing stages in a family's life. Throughout, Rotstein's work is suffused with an awareness of time, the realisation that we are living in history and a sensibility that goes beyond the surface of what is being described." (from the publisher)

I shall swim out towards him . . .
The last thing I want my alive eyes
to behold before I close them forever
are his ripsaw teeth.

-- From "The Shark," Irving Layton

Eyeing the Shark:
Irving Layton at Maimonides Geriatric Centre

he is fearless still
in this enclave of infirmity
defying the failure of body
that forsook him to this place
where urine odours coat the air
and the hapless stare for hours

his books in neat shelves
surround his bed
his offspring -- familiar family
unbetraying and constant

in this home where none live
he calls for book and glasses
his voice booms with words
created by a younger self
and within each cadence of thought, grabs memory;
he denies disease, these walls, its victory
fortressed, as in clearer days
with the purity of poetry and passion

Photograph of the poet © 1987-2009 John Reeves