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Grey Borders Books

John Slater


John Slater has published two books of poems, Surpassing Pleasure , a first collection, and The Tangled Braid: Ninety-Nine Poems by Hafiz of Shiraz , a co-translation. Originally from the Toronto area, since 2000 he has lived as a Cistercian monk in upstate New York.

from Lean

Deer season: through
bare trees in clear
gray light: pickups
and men in fluorescent
orange caps and jackets
who patrol the ridge,
rifles—the occasional
shotgun or crossbow—
slung over camouflage.
They are friendly enough
when I stop to chat
before a morning run.
You oughta git yerself a
red hat . Still
I’d rather be killed by
lean coyote than
man for sport.

praise for Lean:

 [T]hese are fine weavings. Strange and new and a bit bereft.The poems convey a hyperconsciousness of the weirdness of things, of leftovers, of impenetrable shapes, one or two of which trigger a memory of an irretrievable time  ... I think it is how people see the world when they are dying, as little traces of intelligence woven into substances and tools.  Unanalyzable.  All surface.

-Fanny Howe


The quiet in these poems arises out of minutely observed, eloquent details from revolving restaurants in Asia to open graves, these set lovingly in place. By building these small containers with such tenderness and skill, John Slater has made our world calmer, funnier and more caring. We’re lucky to have such an eye and mind among us.

-Tim Lilburn