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            Guest For  WEDNESDAY MAY 11, 2005


                         NANCY-GAY ROTSTEIN M.A., L.L.B.  





                                  THIS HORIZON AND BEYOND




    More About:


Nancy-Gay Rotstein

(Photo: 1987, John Reeves)

Nancy-Gay Rotstein received a Master's degree in Canadian history from the University of Toronto. She has an LLB degree from Osgoode Hall Law School and is a member of the Ontario Bar. She served on the Board of Directors of The Canada Council for two terms from 1985 to 1991, and also served on The National Library Advisory Board of Canada and the Public Lending Right Commission.

Selected Publications:

China Shockwaves. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1987; also US: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1987; UK: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989.
Taking Off. Longman, 1979.
Through the Eyes of a Woman. Griffin, 1975.
Essential Words: An Anthology of Canadian Poetry. Ottawa: Oberon, 1985; contr.; ed. Seymour Mayne.


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Nancy-Gay Rotstein is the author of three previous collections of poetry, China: Shockwaves, Taking Off and Through the Eyes of a Woman, and the novel Shattering Glass. She lives outside Toronto.






Nancy-Gay Rotstein




Nancy-Gay Rotstein's poetry has been hailed for its powerful imagery,perceptive insights, and universal appeal. This Horizon and Beyond brings together landmark poems from her previous collections with poems appearing in print for the first time.

Included are poems from Rotstein's travels through China as one of the first Westerners to enter that country after the Cultural Revolution; evocative and stirring images from her travels in Greece, Italy, Japan, and Israel; and an emotionally charged cycle of poems that--written over a 20-year period and purposely held for publication as a unit--capture the changing stages in a family's life. Her other enduring themes include history, nature, and ecology. Throughout are colourful and insightful poem-portraits of people and incisive portrayals of historical events--among them selections that contemplate Israel and the Holocaust.

"Her poet's sharp eye detects the hidden diamond or pearl," writes Irving Layton in the Foreword. "She has the amazing ability to petrify her insights and observations into a hieroglyph, a statuary that will transcend the moment, that will transcend time."

Everywhere Rotstein's work is suffused with an awareness of time, the realization that we are living in history, and a sensibility that goes beyond the surface of what is being described. Nancy-Gay Rotstein's unique voice and perspective, her stunning images and her far-ranging experience combine with her masterful ability to crystallize what she sees into brilliant and resonant poetry.

"Her language is sparse and clear. ... Her imagination, her keen eyes and ears are very much her own. ... Even if her lines were arranged like prose they would still be poetry."--Globe and Mail

"All of Rotstein's work is shot through with a historical consciousness....If there's a single theme that links a lifetime's work, it's just that -- the impermanence of every human achievement, the fragility of peace, order and good government."--Maclean's

"Nancy-Gay Rotstein's poems paint large, rich pictures of life...Her poetry [has] a descriptive prowess that cuts to the quick. Her textures of colour, light and history freeze moments to paper. ... She has a strong sense of history, fair play and justice."--The Ottawa Citizen

"She uses words as if they were diamonds, selecting them sparingly and polishing them until they capture the exact image... or landscape that she wants."--Canadian Press

"Rotstein is an original. It is not just the words she writes, fashioned to fit a space on a page; they are words from the soul, given brilliant flight in the rare imagination of a daring spirit. ... You are drawn into her brilliant constructions, made to feel her layers of nuance. This book becomes a bedside companion, a wise friend..." --The Hamilton Spectator

"This Horizon and Beyond is a luminous exploration of the ambit where history, impressions, memory and imagination pass into one another and through one another. How precious to be able to transform the uncertainty and emptiness of life into human potential and hope."--The Canadian Jewish News

"Surprising twists of phrase give this poetry a punch...The book is the culmination of a quarter-century of writing poetry...And they are good. There is a gem-like quality to many of them with a precision in language that somehow makes her poems both specific and universal."--Edmonton Journal

"Her command of language, both its beauty and precision, is without peer....Rotstein has the ability to find the soul in everything she observes, and her words reach into the heart."--Kitchener-Waterloo Record

Nancy-Gay Rotstein has been critically acclaimed for her poetry which has been published in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Her previous collections of poetry include China: Shockwaves,Taking Off, and Through the Eyes of a Woman. She is also the author of a critically acclaimed first novel, Shattering Glass, which has been translated into eight languages. Rotstein holds a graduate degree in history and a law degree. She has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Canada Council for the Arts, the National Library and Telefilm Canada. She lives in Toronto.

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This Horizon and Beyond

Poems Selected and New

N-G Rotstein

‘Her language is sparse and clear... Her imagination, her keen eyes and ears are very much her own’’ Globe and Mail

‘Sparse and precise, Nancy-Gay Rotstein’s poems paint large, rich pictures of life... Her poetry [has] a descriptive prowess that cuts to the quick. Her textures of color, light, and history freeze moments to paper’ ’ The Ottawa Citizen

Nancy-Gay Rotstein’s poetry has been hailed for its powerful imagery, perceptive insights, and universal attraction. This Horizon and Beyond comprises landmark selections from her three previous books as well as poems appearing in print for the first time. Arranged into sections titled Sightings; Compass Points: Eastward, The Equinox, Borders; and The Cycle, this volume provides a probing look, in verse, at 'this horizon and beyond’.

Included are poems from Rotstein’s travels through China as one of the first Westerners to enter that country after the Cultural Revolution; stirringly real poetic snapshots of her travels in Greece, Italy, Japan and Israel; and an emotionally charged cycle of poems that capture the changing stages in a family’s life. Everywhere, Rotstein’s work is suffused with the overwhelming idea that we are living in history and her masterful ability to crystallise what she sees into brilliant and resonant poetry.



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Click to buy This Horizon and Beyond: Poems Selected and New

This Horizon and Beyond: Poems Selected and New
Nancy-Gay Rotstein
General (2002) 

ISBN: 0771075901 Trade Paperback, 170 pages, McClelland & Stewart
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This collection comprises selections from Nancy-Gay Rotstein's previous books, as well as poems never before published. "She has a gift of isolating the manifold things and events experienced in one's daily life and of extracting from her observations and insights a broad, compelling vision," writes Irving Layton in his foreword to this volume. "What also is manifest is her heartfelt enjoyment of simply being alive. Her poet's sharp eyes detect the hidden diamond or pearl . Rotstein's poems possess a hard, flinty, classical quality. She has the amazing ability to petrify her insights and observations into a hieroglyph. Like all enduring poets, she is aware of the transcendental and eternal existing side by side."


This Horizon and Beyond
by Nancy-Gay Rotstein

Reviewed by Sheila Martindale

This collection of new and selected poems covers a wide territory and many years of writing. It is divided into three sections: Sightings; Compass Points (which has three sub-sections); and Cycles.

In Sightings we share things which the poet has observed, such as a war veteran remembering a wife who committed suicide, and a once-intimidating woman now the victim of a stroke. Rotstein also writes about being Jewish in a WASPish world, about turning 30 (some of these poems have been around for a while), about regrets and death, which "...sure-footed and swift/silences our hearts." (From The Race). A friend of Irving Layton (who wrote the Foreword), she writes about him as a teddy-bear type, as opposed to the bombastic, opinionated guy we all know and love.

The poet was one of the first people to visit China under very controlled conditions, and a portion of the book is from her record of that experience China: Shockwaves, first published in 1987. My personal favourite here is a poem called Visit to Thirteenth Middle School, where she comments on the juxtaposition of the extremely regimented school system and the unselfconscious natural behaviour of the children.

In the sub-section entitled Equinox are many poems about issues of social justice, protest poems about deer-hunting and demolishing old buildings, about destroying animal habitat to build a sub-division, about the brutal pruning of a tree she had planted and nurtured, and about air pollution. This is where Rotstein shows her real strength as a poet, speaking from the heart.

The sub-section Borders reads a bit like a travel brochure, this is a person who has travelled a lot. She writes about war-torn Israel, many places in Europe, about Japan and the Caribbean. Some of these have anti-tourist themes: "the iron birds/drop their burden/on your aching runways." (From Sint Maarten/St. Martin)

The Cycle contains family chronicle poems, and are published for the first time here, the author saving them all up so they could appear as a unit. Despite her closeness to the subjects, the poet has managed to avoid sentimentality, and to write objectively about family outings, cottage life, and the various stages in the lives of family members.

Nancy-Gay Rotstein writes clearly, with a strong voice and economy of language. In any collection spanning thirty years, there are uneven spots, and the occasional topic which seems outmoded, but in general this is a fine, well-rounded collection. Definitely an interesting read.

I found a couple of annoying typos, but on the whole this is a nicely presented book, and at a price that one normally pays nowadays for much slimmer paperback volumes.



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