The Beauty of Faith and Nature | Review of “this Orchard Sound” by John Terpstra (2014) Wolsak & Wynn


Thank you to Wolsak & Wynn for making this book available to me at the 2014 Toronto Word on the Street Festival

We take nature for granted, there is no doubt in that. It takes a few carefully considered phrases to awaken us on our ignorance. And that is what John Terpstra has done in this Orchard Sound.

1 (excerpt)

I come to the garden alone, garden,

of fruit, fruit of the tree: apple, pear,

peach, plum, cherry. The March earth

is a mulch of last autumn, a half-frozen

mass of leaves and produce that’s yet

attracting birds, if that’s

what the birds are after-

there are so many! lifting off,

landing, chatting like crazy,

making this orchard sound

like a major event


and in a little while,

leaves: blossomtime.

                                               Do these

damned trees still believe


is possible? the power of prayer,

that the same old story

bears repeating, adding to

the two-grand anno domini

of borrowed time

                             we already have?

While this is a small book, Terpstra has spoken volumes here. He attention here is focussed on an orchard that is about to be destroyed by human development. He has crafted phrases here that clearly show his feelings to our  mind’s eye.

6 (excerpt)

And at the orchard’s heart

the ear is hounded by inhuman sound

a six-lane highway bass, breathing out

its monotone continuo of HNHNHNHNAAAAAAAAAA

while at the nearer lights, cars kneel

and throb their mocking yukyukyukyukyukyuk

as from the rooftops, heating units,

air conditioners, snicker the ozone

and the glazed eyes of office buildings

coldly smirk

                     what bright sun?

One can feel the anguish and pain in Terpstra’s thoughts. He describes each image with clarity that we can empathize with him.

14 (Excerpt)

I come by a tree, recently mauled, mangled

by cut and tear, and the familiar bramble

of  loped branches, so fresh

it seems the buds might still unfold,

that what little life remains

is enough to blossom.

                          But after these

events, this past

six weeks, I burst

             Who hath wounded thee?

Tell me, that I may take my blade,

its sharp teeth. . .

             And the riled stillness

breaks, for once, and from all around birds

unfurl their wings, come flying in,

gather and land on the crazy busted branches,

talking it up;

          and for once

I actually begin to make out

what they say; they say

             but  Nay, sir,

While it is a small book, this Orchard Sound by John Terpstra is a volume that speaks volumes. His phrases are powerful and illuminating. A pleasure to read.

Link to John Terpstra’s website

Link to Wolsak & Wynn’s page for this Orchard Sound

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s