“A supremely cohesive and coherent performance the poems speak to (or with) readers, a rare anomaly in these times Heighton works (and plays) with words in wondrous ways few contemporary poets even dream of attempting, let alone conquering.”—Judith Fitzgerald, Globe & Mail
Patient Frame, a poetry collection published by House of Anansi, April 2010
• Second printing, July 2010
A Carte Blanche Best of 2010 choice
A Vehicule Blog Best of 2010 choice
P.K. Page Founders' Award, from the Malahat Review, for the poem "Jetlag"
Includes poems anthologized in the 2009 and 2010 editions of The Best Canadian Poetry
“Steven Heighton continues to top his own oeuvre with Patient Frame, a sharp framing and reframing of an ever-widening poetic gaze that captures its subjects, detail after exuberant detail, at thirty images a thought.”—Jennifer Still, Winnipeg Free Press
“Formally elegant and morally resonant Full of those frissons of recognition that make reading poetry a way of reintroducing one to one's own soul.” —Susan Glickman, Vehicule Blog
“I can't say for sure that [his] is a novelist's talent more than a poet's, but I can say Heighton has it cold.” —Chris Jennings, Arc
“Remarkably diverse The personal domestic poems at the heart of this collection have the most power.” —Angie Abdou, Fernie Fix
“On a variety of fronts, including richness of theme and superb lyrical execution, the poem's a genuine triumph.” —Russell Thornton, on the poem "Jetlag"—excerpted from his P.K. Page Founders' Award citation
“Thematic urgency and a prevailing freshness of content and technique make Patient Frame an exciting collection.” —Paul Franz, ForeWord Reviews
“Patient Frame is Kingston-based poet, fiction writer, and essayist Steven Heighton's fifth collection of poems. As readers of his work have come to expect, this book has tremendous range, covering subjects both personal and political, and employing forms as diverse as elegy, ballad, haiku, sonnet, and dramatic monologue. As in his previous collection, The Address Book, Heighton also appends a section of excellent "Approximations" – more or less loose translations of poems by other poets.
The historical and political poems in the book — especially "You Know Who You Are" (an angry address to a pedophilic cleric) — are impressive, but the ones that linger longest tend to be those that stick closer to home. Particularly moving are "Outram Lake" (an elegy that pays homage, both in content and style, to the late poet Richard Outram); "Home Movies, 8 mm" (included in Tightrope Books' Best Canadian Poetry 2009 anthology); "Herself, Revised" (a poem about reading to a daughter who is quickly outgrowing being read to); and "On a Change of Address Card Sent a Few Weeks Before You Died" (an elegy for an aunt).
Heighton's prosody ranges from the formal to the free, but mostly roams the fertile middle ground of what Paul Verlaine called vers libr (freed-up verse). Rarely does Heighton constrain himself to a single metre or full rhyme. With the exception of a few Asian-inspired imagistic poems, his aesthetic inclines toward the baroque: "solace that forms / and soars from the grooves and nerves / of this forked, frail sack of bones, briefly marrowed with music." The hazard of this maximalist tendency has always been the inclusion of the odd purple patch, and Patient Frame succumbs to this: "Still in the Agent // Orange skies, your archangelic contrail lingers." Such passages, however, are minor flaws in a very good collection.” —Zachariah Wells, First review of Patient Frame, in Quill & Quire, April 2010
Heighton's considerable lyric powers reach new intensity in this astonishing collection. From the court of Medici to the My Lai massacre; from erotic passion to situations of deep moral failure, these poems are part of a scanning of our human horizons for moments of lasting value. Dynamic, vigorous, tender, as engaged with the moment as with traditions of East and West, Patient Frame brings together more of Heighton's vital translations of poets as diverse as Jorge Luis Borges and Horace.