GOLD IN THE SHADOW:
TWENTY-TWO GHAZALS AND A CENTO
For Phyllis Webb
Poems by Diana Hayes
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In the book’s introduction, Hayes tells us that these poems were incubating while she worked for several years with Phyllis Webb on a catalogue of her paintings. These carefully crafted ghazals combine textures and themes from Webb’s canvases and poems. The book is a fitting tribute on her ninety-fourth birthday and includes twenty-two poems and a cento constructed with lines from Webb’s book, Water and Light. Daybook entries appear opposite the ghazals and provide references and a kind of topographic guide, revealing the poet’s creative process.
I once stood on a rooftop in Argentina and watched a man, in the square below, tango with an invisible partner. The one he held in his arms moved with him and through him in such a way that it was impossible to tell who was leading and who following. Diana Hayes’s collection Gold in the Shadow: Twenty Two Ghazals and a Cento for Phyllis Webb is a dazzling rendition of such a dance. Like the vesper flight of swifts, these poems recalibrate on the wing, orienting themselves to the echoes of a beloved poet – at the same time they are perfectly themselves. They are enough. They are more than enough. The bones are rising with the moon. Gravitas. She is praised.
— Eve Joseph, author of award-winning books including Quarrels and In The Slender Margin
In inhabiting a form that Phyllis Webb made her own—the ghazal in its Canadian variant pioneered by John Thompson—Diana Hayes draws on images from history and the world to create a homage to Phyllis Webb’s paintings and poems, to the landscapes of a coast she shares with Webb, to the vitality of their friendship and, thus, to the possibility of all poetic becoming and habitation.
— Erín Moure, author of eighteen books of poetry including The Elements and Planetary Noise: Selected Poetry of Erín Moure
As I read through Diana Hayes’s Gold in the Shadow: I’m looking, across the room, at Phyllis Webb’s painting titled “Across.” The painting denotes the crossword puzzle as a visual trope to move the imagination. Hayes’s ghazals configure, also, into a betweeness, a crossing through –Ghalib, Thompson, Webb – that is an assimilation of recognition, a sort of communal identity, something larger. These ghazals, shadowed by the words across from them, next to them, reflect the welcome possibility of “a new century” revealed by “Old stone(s).”
— Fred Wah, author of 30 books of poetry, prose and literary criticism, most recently Scree: The Collected Earlier Poems 1962-1991 and Music at the Heart of Thinking
reviews & readings
Read Mary Ann Moore’s Blog Review of Gold in the Shadow
Read Isabella Wang’s review of Gold in the Shadow, published in The Ormsby Review #1215
A review by Emily-Jane Hills Orford in Arc Poetry Magazine, Nov.27, 2021
Double Portrait of Phyllis Webb by Canadian artist Joe Plaskett
Diana Hayes reading from Gold in the Shadow for Poets Corner One Minute Poem June 2021
Poets Corner Reading Series