Sailing to Babylon: Poems

Sailing to Babylon - poems by James Pollock

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Sailing to Babylon

 Poems by James Pollock
 With a Foreword by Jeffery Donaldson

Finalist for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize

Finalist for the 2012 Governor General's Literary Award in Poetry from the Canada Council

Governor General Literary Award - Finalist

Honorable Mention for the 2012 Posner Poetry Book Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers

Winner of an Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association


Sailing to Babylon, James Pollock's debut collection, is filled with poems of exploration and discovery: a schoolboy’s fascination with his teacher; a Bible inherited from a grandmother; an extended Dantean hike in terza rima. Pollock muses, too, on figures from Canadian history—explorers Henry Hudson, David Thompson, and John Franklin, the critic Northrop Frye, the pianist Glenn Gould. This is a collection full of surprises and pleasures, a treasure-chest mapped for discovery, “an image of the world/ made small enough to hold inside the mind.” A book with the power to take you “to the place/ exactly where you always meant to go.”


James Pollock is a poet of Northwest Passages, a learned Canadian poet with a splendid ear and a Romantic sensibility, a keen explorer of inner and outer states. Sailing to Babylon is not only a fully realized and accomplished work of art—it is also a noble book.
   – Edward Hirsch

You will hear in these poems something like the jouncing and ruckus of a wilderness traveler adjusting the gear on his back, steeling his resolve, finding his footings and heading off. In the end Pollock’s departures are an exploration of that inward Northwest Passage where the borderlines themselves between real and imagined, the present and the past, the found and the lost, seem almost to dissolve—passages, as Pollock says, “breaking up within”—and where, in this anthem of mixed voices, our wondering where home is becomes our wandering where home is. . . . I would almost prefer to be the reviewer, or some boastful exegete revealing to readers one hundred years from now some of the untold treasures that, its many readers notwithstanding, lie hidden here still.
   – Jeffery Donaldson (from the “Foreword”)

The metaphysics of the pause, the transition, the image: James Pollock has the Tranströmer instinct, but he plays the music in his very own key. These are haunting, deeply digested, nearly always surprising poems.
   – Sven Birkerts


Paperback ~ $16.95

(Able Muse Press, June, 2012)
80 pages
ISBN 978-0-9865338-7-7

Digital edition for Kindle and Nook~$9.99