OTTAWA—Words are Michael Caesar’s stock in trade. A former journalist and editor, for years now Mr. Caesar, who hails from Little Current, has wielded his pen in the service of our country as a speech writer for the Governor General’s office, and more lately performing those same services for Foreign Affairs—a daunting responsibility given the current state of tensions taking place on the world stage.
But Mr. Caesar is also both an author and a poet in his down time and The Expositor contacted him about his latest work, ‘Perpetual Ideal.’
“It’s just a little chapbook, about 20 pages or so,” said Mr. Caesar when contacted by The Expositor about his latest publication through Anstruther Press. A chapbook, he explains, is a small publication with an interesting past.
A chapbook is usually defined as a small publication of up to about 40 pages (sometimes bound with a saddle stitch) and in early modern Europe it was a type of printed street literature that became very a very popular form in North America.
Poetry itself was a much more popular form of literature in the days before radio, movies, television and, in recent times, the internet crowded the field. Today most poetry is expressed in pop form through song, hip hop and rap being the most prevalent.
“Poetry interests me,” said Mr. Caesar. “Words are such an interesting material to work with. There are multiple meanings of so many words.”
Those words are more than simply storytelling, he notes, likening good poetry to something more like a painting. The imagery evoking emotion and often a sense of place. His latest work has been inspired by the North Channel, set in that place, but also tracing images and pictures in one’s mind.
Unlike much writing, poetry is meant to be spoken out loud, said Mr. Caesar. Ideally, when the words are spoken the rhythm and metre will introduce a number of images. “One of my favourite Irving Layton principles of poetry is ‘Whatever else poetry is freedom.’ Whenever it is good, you feel unchained by it.”
Mr. Caesar describes poetry as being a “livelong craft,” but one that is entirely accessible. “Anyone can pick it up,” he said. “Anyone can write a poem, all you need is to pick up a pen an paper.” Mr. Caesar pointed to the annual Expositor Valentine Poetry Contest as a case in point.
He noted that there is a long and storied history of chapbooks as a means of making poetry accessible.
The Expositor has a number of copies of Mr. Caesar’s ‘Perpetual Ideal’ available for purchase in our Little Current office.