A Matter of Inclusion by Chad Norman

Sun rising in smoke greets the day, deep shades of stone fruit under a brushstroke sky. And I’m reading the latest from Atlantic Canadian poet Chad Norman. My last exploration of his work was Squall: Poems In The Voice Of Mary Shelley, a poignant, illustrated compilation I found particularly engaging. Now, Norman presents us with A Matter of Inclusion, a compilation of work gathered, in part, from a diverse range of other publications, single pieces and exploratory work spanning a number of years. It’s conscientiously thought through, brought together in a manner that encourages the reader, as it clearly did the writer, to examine our place in the world, past and present, to perhaps improve the future.

This, from the book’s Introduction:

“I have been writing and publishing poetry for 40 years, during which time I have lived in various places in Canada, including on both west and east coasts. During this time, I have had the privilege of witnessing the changing face, and faces, of Canada. I have had the opportunity to work, often in warehouses and factories, with Canadians with roots all over the world, including Indigenous Canadians, new immigrants, and those whose parents or grandparents chose to make Canada their home. I currently live in Truro, Nova Scotia, which continues to grow, enriched by the businesses and cultures and cuisines introduced by new arrivals every day. My poetry has always delved into those places where the personal and public intersect. At this stage in my career, I could not take myself seriously as a writer if I were not exploring and celebrating the changes I see in my community.

The goal of this current project is to educate myself: I want to understand what it is like to find one’s home in Canada, whether it is for economic or political reasons, or having to flee violence. I want to come as close to understanding as possible, and as a white man who has lived in Canada his whole life, I can only do that by asking questions, and by connecting my personal experience with that of others. This is what my poems are about.”

Norman’s work continues to stimulate, query, provoke. It’s a perspective shared by many of a generation in this part of the world. There’s a comfortable familiarity in the work yet presented with the freshness of an artist keen to create, to delve further into what can mistakenly become the norm, and by doing so ensure originality and innovation.

This, from the book’s overview:

“Appealing to the Good is Us, Chad Norman writes poignantly and lyrically about the human journey, punctuated by border crossings, walls and barb-wire fences, racism, and intolerance based on one’s physical looks, religion, gender, language, and geographic dis/location. In these deeply moving poems, the author reminds us that not only are we each other’s keeper, but also stewards of the planet. Thus, the care of each other and the planet go hand in hand. These poems are warnings, prophecies, and elegies, but also a strong belief in the goodness of each one of us, and a gentle coaxing into performing right action. This is the only way we will be able to pull ourselves from the brink. Norman offers a blueprint for right action: love, compassion, fortitude, and courage. Read these poems then as meditations of hope for our collective future and evolution.”

It’s an accurate representation of this latest body of work from this skilled wordsmith. I applaud Norman for another collection of thought-provoking poems, shared in a manner that’s not only accessible but may in fact raise a collective bar for many of us in a most positive manner.

About the Author

Chad Norman lives beside the high-tides of the Bay of Fundy, Truro, Nova Scotia. He has given talks and readings in Denmark, Sweden, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, America, and across Canada. His poems appear in publications around the world and have been translated into Danish, Albanian, Romanian, Turkish, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and Polish. His collections include Selected & New Poems (Mosaic Press), Squall: Poems In The Voice Of Mary Shelley (Guernica Editions), and Simona: A Celebration Of The S.P.C.A. (Cyberwit.Net).

  • Title: A Matter of Inclusion
  • Author: Chad Norman
  • Publisher: Mwanaka Media and Publishing, 2022
  • ISBN: 978-1-77921-334-1

Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of the Gone Viking travel memoirs (Gone Viking: A Travel SagaGone Viking II: Beyond BoundariesGone 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.