Darryl WhetterOrigins

Palimpsest Press, 2012

by Bruce Wark on August 19, 2014

Darryl Whetter

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Literature] In his new book of poems, Origins (Palimpsest Press, 2012), the Canadian writer Darryl Whetter uses metaphor to excavate the links between pre-historic life, extinction, evolution and modern-day sex.

In this interview with the New Books Network, Whetter says the fossilized remains of ancient creatures are like poems that use metaphors to convey emotion and truth.

“Fossils share a lot of analogues with poetry,” Whetter says. “For one, we get that incredible power of compression.” He explains that from fossilized fragments, scientists extrapolate whole creatures and ecosystems.

“And that’s so much like poetry, where to just take the most common tool of poetry, metaphor, we’re getting a lot of ideas compressed into a few words.”

Origins, published in 2012, begins with the fossil cliffs at Joggins, Nova Scotia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where coal-age forests flourished 310 million years ago.

The book also takes Whetter in search of the dinosaurs at Drumheller, Alberta and the rich fossil finds of the Burgess Shale in British Columbia. Along the way, he visits Charles Darwin’s house in Kent, England and ponders the mating habits of the students at the universities where he has taught as an English professor.

Darryl Whetter is the author of a book of short stories, A Sharp Tooth in the Fur (2003). His first novel The Push and the Pull was published in 2008 and his latest novel Keeping Things Whole came out in 2013.

In this interview, Darryl Whetter discusses some of the poems in Origins and why he felt compelled to write them.

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