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Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems [Paperback]

Randall Maggs
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Feb. 28 2008

A hockey saga, wrapping the game’s story in the "intense, moody, contradictory&3quot; character of Terry Sawchuk, one of its greatest goalies.

Denied the leap and dash up the ice,
what goalies know is side to side, an inwardness of monk
and cell. They scrape. They sweep. Their eyes are elsewhere
as they contemplate their narrow place. Like saints, they pray for nothing,
which brings grace. Off-days, what they want is space. They sit apart
in bars. They know the length of streets in twenty cities.
But it’s their saving sense of irony that further
isolates them as it saves.
– from "One of You"

In compact, conversational poems that build into a narrative long poem, Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems follows the tragic trajectory of the life and work of Terry Sawchuk, dark driven genius of a goalie who survived twenty tough seasons in an era of inadequate upper-body equipment and no player representation. But no summary touches the searching intensity of Maggs’s poems. They range from meditations on ancient/modern heroism to dramatic capsules of actual games, in which the mystery of character meets the mystery of transcendent physical performance. Night Work is illustrated with photographs mirroring the text, depicting key moments in the career of Terry Sawchuk, his exploits and his agony.

"Through his marvelous, moving poetry, Randall Maggs gets closer than any biographer to the heart of the darkest, most troubled figure in the history of the national game. This may be the truest hockey book ever written. It reaches a level untouched by conventional sports literature… His Sawchuk is real." – Stephen Brunt, Globe and Mail columnist and Canada’s premier sportswriter and commentator


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“… An exquisite biographical novel, in the tradition of Michael Ondaatje’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid… clearly [Maggs] has his own deep knowledge of what he calls ‘an ancient game with ancient rules’… Night Work takes us into the darker, more complex psyche of a colder nation.”--John Degen, The Globe and Mail

“Sawchuck could be the poster boy for that golden age of hockey… also [the] face of the game’s darker side… [Night Work]’s a historical epic, complete with tragically flawed characters, high drama, gladiatorial combat, and occasional comic relief.”--Barbara Carey, The Toronto Star

“Each of the dozens of short poems is a revelation… a wonderful celebration of maskless, thinly padded goalies who wore bare-faced grimaces of pain, even fear, with their bruises that lasted deep into the summer.”--Dave Stubbs, Montreal Gazette

About the Author

Randall Maggs is the author of Timely Departures (poetry, 1994), and co-editor of two anthologies pairing Newfoundland and Canadian poems with those of Ireland. He is artistic director of Newfoundland’s March Hare festival of music and literature, and teaches literature at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University.


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and moving Dec 4 2012
Format:Paperback
Came across this volume by chance, and found it remarkable. Very moving, without shying away from what I assume is a fair portayal of the guts and physicality of hockey in the 50's, and the sometimes difficult lives of the farmboys brought up to play in the major leagues. Sawchuk emerges as a troubled soul, but very real - Maggs reveals his demons with compassion for the man. I see Quill and Quire criticized it to some degree for containing exposition here and there, and the reviewer indicated that poetry was not built for this - a ridiculous stance, and Maggs proves that a powerful story can be told with a book-length series of poems. Highly recommended.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars doesn't get any better Aug. 28 2008
By J. J. Rahn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Maggs research, style and feeling are eloquently portayed in these poems. My father was a hockey nut. Every time I pick up Night Work I think about him and Terry and Gordie and the game.
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