A Life in Poetry
by Bruce Hunter
A Life in Poetry (2022) Alegela D’Ambra’s generous Italian translation of the Winner - 2011 Acorn-Plantos Award for People's Poetry
A Life in Poetry (Poesie scelte Two O'Clock Creek), published in 2022, is the Italian translation of Bruce Hunter's award-winning collection Two O'Clock Creek - Poems New and Selected (2010).
Two O’Clock Creek – Poems New and Selected brings together Bruce Hunter’s previous books of poetry as well as new work of a life-long poet. Acclaimed by Books in Canada, The Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, and Canadian Literature, Hunter is a poet who goes to the core of life.
These poems reveal the mysteries of rivers, the secrets of spurned loves, the lives of workers and the joys and heartbreak of new immigrants, always against a carefully drawn backdrop, whether urban or rural. The unflinching emotions here move from awe to anger to whimsy in an authentic voice that is in turns, tender, scathing and celebratory.
Two O’Clock Creek is the “seed” poem which inspired Hunter’s novel, In the Bear’s House, which won the 2009 Canadian Rockies Award at the Banff Mountain Festival.
Barry Dempster, Author of Being Here
“Bruce Hunter’s poems are steeped in family history, legend, an agile sense of place, character, and are held together by the grit and gust of detail and the strength of sentiment. Two O’clock Creek is a bare-hearted book, composed of muscle and sweat, its verbs balancing a kind of heft and haul that powers the reader through close to thirty years. But it’s the light at the core of Hunter’s writing that manages to connect the macho to the transcendent, creating shivers of tenderness.”
Michael Dennis, "Today's Book of Poetry"
“Read Bruce Hunter's Two O'Clock Creek and you might want to call this "blue collar" poetry. Narrative poetry that unfolds with grace and a consistent voice, the kind you can trust. Hunter's poems are metronome constant, earth bound and earthy. Real flesh and blood people living messy lives and attempting to be honourable. That could be the story of any of us. And back in the day the Russians thought Bob Gainey was the best hockey player on earth. I don't think Bruce Hunter is the best poet on earth, but he sure plays an admirable game." Read the full review on Michael Dennis's poetry blog here.
Andrew Torry, FFWD Magazine
Bruce Hunter’s most recent collection of poetry, Two O’ Clock Creek, includes a poem titled “Towards a Definition of Pornography” that has earned him both praise and condemnation. The poem chastises certain parts of society for treating violence as scintillating entertainment. Hunter’s own family was deeply hurt by the poem because it revealed the family’s history of domestic violence, something they hoped to keep secret. But Hunter doesn’t like secrets. When families and communities keep heinous acts quiet, they allow the perpetrators to get away with their crimes. According to Hunter, poetry is one way to expose those skeletons.
“The secret of Jim Keegstra,” says Hunter, in reference to another poem in the collection about the infamous schoolteacher who taught his students the Holocaust never happened, “is that a lot of other people were complicit by not doing something. My question was, he did that for 11 years. He taught that the Holocaust didn’t happen. There was a school superintendent and there was a principal. But it was a single mother who complained — that led to that trial. Why did that happen?”
The book’s publisher says that Hunter’s love of people is evident in these poems. Hunter at first felt undeserving of such praise, but eventually agreed. He insists, however, that a love of people does not exclude questioning their actions and judgment or holding them accountable. For that reason, he doesn’t shy away from opening a Pandora’s box and showing his readers what’s inside.
Not all of his poems are so scathingly confrontational. Many are written in admiration of a particular individual. “The Beekeeper’s Daughter” shows some scorn for sexual stereotyping, but its main focus is on two teenage boys who are totally enamoured of a beautiful older woman. Hunter wrote the poem out of appreciation for a woman who dared to be different.