McLeese Lake horselogger and poet, Lorne Dufour, has produced a new book of verse called The Silence of Horses, released this month by Caitlin Press.
This is Lorne’s fourth book, and he is planning a poetry reading and book launch on Friday, June 21 at the Gecko Tree Restaurant starting at 7 p.m. A few other musicians will take to the stage as well to help him celebrate.
Hearing a poet read his or her work is the best way to get into the magic of their words. Lornie, as his friends call him, has developed his craft for more than 50 years, and he’s getting better at it.
As some people know, Dufour suffered a brain aneurism a dozen years ago and he had to learn vocabulary and to speak all over again.
Most of the poems in The Silence of Horses were written after his aneurism. “All my memory was gone after my brain surgery,” he says. “All I could remember were some verses of John Donne. I was told I might not be able to write again.”
Gradually Dufour’s faculties returned. Now he writes prolifically from a brand new perspective.
Asked what inspires him to write poetry, Dufour’s reply is simple. “To remind people how great it is to be alive.”
So how do you nail down the strands of living, breathing human existence? How do you express the essence of what really matters?
With his poetry, Dufour reveals the soft underbelly of everyday circumstance.
He paints the Cariboo from a mystic’s perspective, but he does it in such a down-to-earth way you can smell the horse sweat running down the sides of his beloved behemoth giants dragging logs from the bush.
No stone is left unturned, no subject matter is taboo as Dufour contemplates his own aging.
“My body has become a personal type of disgust,” he writes. “Now after seven decades of delight, I now find it repulsive.”
He writes about favourite cats or dogs, wildlife, bird migrations, and a fox and her mate visiting the loggers at lunch.
Of course he writes plenty about horses. “Horse logging. Don’t forget to mention I was a horse logger for 35 years.”
Dufour’s whole life is a love affair with his big horses – his beloved wife, Diana, and their three kids Creole, Tereina and Easton notwithstanding. It is through his big Clydesdales that Dufour touches the brass ring of life’s deeper meaning. His horses are his metaphor for what really matters.
Dufour captures everyday moments in life like popcorn strung up for decorations, and holds them up for us to admire. He wings you into the cadence of a great flock of Canada geese passing overhead. You can hear their cries, he says, but they are so high they are hidden from view. Then he ponders whether they can see him and want him to hear their songs? Ah, the mind of a poet.
Dufour writes poetry for all occasions, births, deaths, weddings, graduations. Where some might buy an expensive gift or gadget, Dufour will compose and dedicate a special verse. These are items of thought and feeling, truly an honour to receive. The Wedding for Troy and Ingrid on page 50 of The Silence of Horses, is an example.
“Wedlock is a wondrous ceremony of clouds that we the children of clouds celebrate in the skies of our hearts,” he writes.
In December 2004, Lorne and I became good friends. We knew of each other before that, but hadn’t really connected. We ran into each other at a memorial service for Jerry LeBourdais in Lone Butte, and we both concocted some writing to commemorate our old revolutionary comrade.
Dufour did his in verse of course, and I produced a soliloquy. Both pieces were published in Van Andruss’s Lived Experience Number Five the following year, and subsequently both Dufour and I have contributed to this annual Literary Journal from the Mountains of British Columbia.
What I like best about Dufour’s poetry is how his words swirl around everyday experiences like the steam rising off a hot cup of coffee on a cold day. Inspired by Irish poet W.B. Yeats, he portrays his meaning in uncomplicated language.
He once explained that poetry is “prose without clothes” and we are fortunate to have a poet of Dufour’s calibre in our midst. Everyone should own at least one copy of his books, if not all four. He published Spit on Wishes (1983), Starting from Promise (2001), and Jacob’s Prayer (Caitlin Press 2009).
Mollie Krimmer took the photo of Dufour’s beautiful Clydesdale, Montgomery, used on the cover of The Silence of Horses. Dufour says Montgomery is the last surviving member of the herd of horses he bred and raised at McLeese Lake with his original stallion and mare.
“Horses don’t know boundaries. That’s why we love them,” Dufour says. The Silence of Horses was edited by Peter Quartermain for Caitlin Press. “I sent him 400 poems and he whittled it down to 140,” Dufour says. “My poems kind of sneak up on you.”
If you miss Dufour’s reading at the Gecko Tree Restaurant Friday, you can catch him at the Hootstock Music Festival July 27 in Forest Grove.