Home > Issues > PRISM 53.2 Sneak Preview – “Tar Songs: Maestro” by Laurelyn Whitt

We’re getting set to launch PRISM 53.2 early next month! The issue will be a real treat for poetry fans, featuring new work by Robyn Sarah, Don Coles, Alice Major and Russell Thornton, among many others.

A highlight of the issue will be two poems from Laurelyn Whitt‘s “Tar Songs” series. One of the primary inspirations for Whitt’s series is Ian Willms’ photojournalism project “As Long as the Sun Shines“, which documents how life in the indigenous communities of Fort Chipewyan and Fort McKay has been affected by the development of the Alberta Oil Sands.

As a sneak preview, here is one of Whitt’s poems, based off of this photo from Willms’ series.

Tar Songs: Maestro
				      after a photograph by Ian Willms

You have our attention now.

Yellow-slickered figure
raising a baton 
		      to blue sky.

The clouds pause    hold
          a collective breath 

Syncrude's smoke hangs
in clueless waiting.

Something is about to happen:
a hydrocarbon concerto, perhaps,

or the oiled duck symphony.

	"Our desires," the program 
	notes declare, "rarely come in

	desirable form

	but must be extracted 
	from the more complex."

The dross that remains 

after what we desire 
is taken away

rises, forms 
	         Great Boreal Lakes.

It has already swamped the orchestra,
is lapping at our feet.

You float upon it, alone    
sinking      into your final 


visible from space.

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