Cover painting: Terry Fenton, L'HEURE EXQUISE, Sundown, South of Saskatoon, November 1, 2004
Consigned to The Leighton Foundation


Poems by Allan Safarik
paintings by Terry Fenton

$16.95 CDN/$14.95 US

Saskatchewan Book Award, Best Book of Poetry, 2005

From Allan Safarik's introduction:

The most remarkable thing about living on the northern central plains is the astonishing relationship between the sky, the landscape, and the light. There is nothing more bracing than a clear bright sunlit forty below day in the middle of winter -- when the light seems ethereal in its brilliance against the whiteness. Terry Fenton's paintings are works about light; or about its absence. He paints the sky and the simple earth below in the rapture of the light as it passes through the seasons and the weather. He has been painting on the back roads and the countryside immediately around the region where I live and travel while thinking about the poems that I habitually turn into books. We have been covering the same ground south of Saskatoon, only recording it in different media -- mine, words on paper; his, oil paint on paper. When I look at his paintings I feel a powerful attraction -- they understand the essence of this place in time, distance, light, and space. I marvel at the sunset painting, L'Heure Exquise, on the cover. It is a variation of a scene I witness many times each year on the back road five miles west of Dundurn when we go out in the evenings looking for deer. The sudden sensation of light having recently left the foreground is strangely disturbing as change quickly alters the balance and the moment is transformed into an astonishing abstraction. Fenton's works are pure and persistent in portraying the powerful force of light on a subtle landscape. They invoke memory and let me see the light again in ways that inspire me to think about ideas and how they might be best illuminated in the countryside of the imagination.    


Many thanks to Paul Wilson of Hagios Press for thinking of my paintings in connection with Allan's poems and especially to Allan for writing such fine poems and for his kind and perceptive words about my art.

-- Terry Fenton

Three Poems by Allan Safarik from When Light Falls From The Sun



Visibility has traveled down the highway
This is a good reason to stop in the next town
and kill a few hours reading a book
in the local cafe while the storm blows by
Two hours later the Mounties have decided
to close the highway to Moose Jaw
Outside blue and yellow gas station lights
sizzle in the slanted gloom
Snow dances in the air in the frantic
moth-like trance of soft wings

I hold out my glove, catch a handful
and put it against my lips to taste
the bitterness of winter passage
My footsteps across the parking lot
fill in as fast as I walk away
snowflakes melting in my mouth
leave no trace here or there
Everything pure white and fragile
made of wispy hair and brittle glass bones
winter's smoky fire burns around my body


Sparrows tangled in horse hair
build their nest in the crotch
of choke cherry wood
I wander in the fields
looking for good stones
for medicine dreams
Watch the hawk soaring
against the river of air

In a few minutes the sun
drops behind the horizon
bloody sun spreading
in sandy coloured clouds
I walk back beside the garden
smell onions growing
in the black earth
listen to shiny winged
crows flying around
their roost in a frenzy

Every day, a day of wind
but for weeks,
the spring rain holds off
Thunderheads pass by
rumbling in the distance
Every few seconds another
flash of lightning across
the front of the sky
Cock spinning wildly
on the barn roof


Look there, a hand in the distance
waves goodbye, waves hello
or some gesture of defiance
at an unlikely trespasser
or the affectionate greeting
of a friendly countryman curious
at who might be passing by

Not close enough to tell
the difference ever moving
further across the rocky plain
seeking the lonely path of isolation
the soul's hammer pounds
time's anvil sheds the sparks
cinders die in quenching dust

Far across the sky cloud shadow
surges over the ripening wheat
until it disappears on black earth
a fallow space in the muddle of time
the cool skin of air touches an eye
measured breath of darkness
waiting on the other side