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The Gift of Poetry: Chuck Brickley’s Review of Jeopardy

I have been the recipient of many excellent books of poetry in the last long while, some gifts, some trades. I’m in over my heart!

My aim is to gradually share some of these gems, starting with Richard Lemm’s JEOPARDY.

Richard Lemm is a widely-published Canadian poet, biographer, and short fiction author. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Richard has lived on Prince Edward Island since 1983, where he is a professor of literature and creative writing at the University of PEI. A truth-teller, Richard expresses universal concerns by tapping into the personal. His poetry is redolent with the stuff of life, managing to simultaneously mix classical with contemporary themes, humour and compassion for humanity with a relentless, exacting exposure of our ancient hubris. Heady, soulful, gut-punching poetry at its best. Here’s the first of the three part opening title poem:

Life’s tough choices. Beauty
contests, for instance, three goddesses
and a mortal judge, a straight ahead
guy, no counter-intuitive there.
He taps the no-brainer button
and what’s his reward? A drop-dead
gorgeous babe, sex to die for,
envy of his mates in Troy.
Greeks, up in arms, want her back,
lay seige? No problem:
one sensational shot with his bow
and arrow at the unprotected heel
of their pouty, vain hero
and Paris is home free. Except for
the wrath of Athena, goddess of war,
wisdom, justice, and other big-time stuff,
who doesn’t take rejection lightly
and oversees the burning of his city.
“Next time,” his father tells him, just before
he screws up in single combat and a two-bit
Greek dispatches him with a poisoned arrow,
“go for the fierce, the bookish one.”

For a lovingly detailed remembrance of our early days of friendship, as well as Richard’s response to my book earthshine.

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