‘Not Grief, Safekeeping’: Patrick James Errington’s Poetry Collection, The Swailing

Fine, flat, slim, and white, in the hand it’s a bone of a book. The title, unassuming in lowercase, hangs over David Drummond’s black ash cover design like blood on a naturalist’s slide. Held, there is something avian about this book’s bone. There are six appearances or disappearances of birds altogether in Patrick James Errington’s new collection, the swailing, published as part of McGill-Queens University Press’s Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series. Among these are ‘birds in the distance, rising like a cloud of breath, or maybe myth,’ ‘the field birdless, brimming,’ ‘slightness like a bird’s body in a plastic bag.’ Because Errington’s poems are often discreet, delicate, and intimately

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