When someone now asks me what my favorite book of poetry is I am going to have to say The Good News About Armageddon. I originally bought this book a few months ago because of the cover; I think it has one of the most eye catching cover designs I have seen. Unbeknown to me, the author, Steve McOrmond, is originally from PEI, therefore peaking my curiosity even more. The opening poem, the title poem, is perhaps one of the best poems I have read from any poet of this generation. This collection brings together thoughts that are both accessible and highly literary, examining the world around us with a painter’s eye and musician’s ear.
In most of the poems in this collection the narrator seems at odds with the world around him; whether it is through some kind of sensory perception, like TV images, advertisements, newspapers, other people, or internal factors, the reader really feels that the voice behind these poems is uncomfortable in his own skin. McOrmond makes several references to current events, both political and cultural, that really shine a mirror up to our times. While the narrator does seem the uncomfortable character, he is none-the-less an observant one.
The language and rhythms in this collection are beautiful. The author’s verse take on a life of their own and jump off the page. As you read them you almost feel as though you are mentally singing the poems; this is an art that has been lost on many contemporary poets. McOrmond also does a fine job of blending the narrative and the lyric. This is another trend in contemporary poetry but many poets fail to pull it off. The extended poem “Strait Crossing” is an especially good example.
This is a must read for everyone, not just poetry fans. Steve McOrmond and the folks at Brick Books have done everything right with this one: amazing cover art, great quality in the physical book itself, brilliant title, and of course great poems. I foresee many pieces from this collection being anthologized and added to university and high school reading lists: the title poem, “The Tunnel, the Light”, “Test Pattern”, and “I’d Like to Thank the Academy” are a few examples. The Good News About Armageddon is definitely one of the top books of 2010.