Author and poet P.W. Bridgman is intelligent, articulate, witty, and good-looking. All the attributes I hope one day to possess. I consider him a friend, and he kindly tolerates me. I’ve read, I believe, everything he’s published and shared with the public. Not, mind you, the deep back catalogue of work he created for select professionals in previous careers, but work the rest of us can find at better bookstores. What lovers of great writing are eager to read: flash fiction, short stories, and remarkable pieces of poetry. That’s what P.W. Bridgman creates, and every so often shares with the rest of us. For which we can be thankful.
Idiolect is the latest book of Bridgman’s poetry I’ve had the privilege, actual privilege, of reading. One of a very few books I find myself setting down every few lines simply to savour, and reflect. Realizing this is where writing should be, has come to, and where it ought to be going.
This descriptive overview from Bridgman’s publications page sets the tone. “The poems in Idiolect return to territory that will be familiar to Bridgman’s readers. They aim to explore love, loss, happiness, sorrow and redemption, but in different ways and from some different angles. They seek to provide glimpses of both our better and lesser selves, often in circumstances where character and belief are tested by life events.”
Which is precisely what Idiolect delivers, presented in insightfully linked sections, train coaches in a way, that guides the reader on a poetic journey, one of introspection, sensory engagement, and intense moments of emotion, hurt and healing. Rich visual art also appears in select pieces, along with a complete ekphrastic chapter, like an elegant cast of quietly confident muses crossing a stage, the perfect gift, hand-delivered without an occasion.
This timely, timeless passage is from Idiolect’s opening poem, Call and Response. “Reverse alarms tolling, tolling: a sound the sentient ones have come to know. / Another bed now freed, / Another bedpan off the nightshift checklist, one more call to next of kin.”
While these deeply layered lines come from At the Bakery After the Pathology Report Arrives. “I’m almost done. // And I’ll have all of those. / Yes, all of them. / And one of those, / and two of those. // And give me just two more of those, please, / because after tomorrow I won’t have // either of these.”
It turns out there’s a bar I was unaware of. A kind of literary threshold, a creative high jump crossbar, awaiting a writer like Bridgman to dole out Fosbury Flops of brilliance, surpassing ever-heightening elevations no one but he can see. Only now, a few publications in, am I able to glimpse that crossbar, high overhead, what Bridgman vaults every time he puts pen to paper.
Only Bridgman himself knows precisely where his bar’s set, and where it might yet be raised to. I consider myself one of those witnesses, spectators, fans on the sidelines, eyes wide, clapping and cheering, occasionally ringing a cowbell, as the poetic elite race past in a luge-like spray of ice crystal verse and chilled stanza fragments. This is the work real writers spend a lifetime refining, creating catalyst moments in words, offering up newfound art at its zenith, when it’s truly ready to share. That’s what I see, read and feel in the pages of Idiolect. And I can’t help but wonder when, or where, Bridgman will next set his bar. Assuredly beyond the bounds of what I can envision, but heights I can’t wait to witness.
P.W. Bridgman is a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer of poetry, fiction and literary criticism who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He has previously published two books of short fiction—a selection of short stories entitled Standing at an Angle to My Age (Libros Libertad, 2013) and a selection of short stories and flash fiction entitled The Four-Faced Liar (Ekstasis Editions, 2021). His first collection of poems is entitled A Lamb (Ekstasis Editions, 2018). Idiolect is Bridgman’s second book of poetry.
- Title: Idiolect
- Author: P.W. Bridgman
- Publisher: Ekstasis Editions (2021)
- ISBN: 9781771714280
- Pages: 146
Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of the Gone Viking travel memoirs (Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries, Gone Viking III: The Holy Grail) and A Season on Vancouver Island. He’s won numerous book awards and received a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society for his expeditions. When not trekking with a small pack and journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, where he lives near the sea on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh land.