“A sense of ego-urgency has seemingly sucked hard on any high octane left in my system, and what used to take me a decade and more to accomplish as a writer has suddenly fruited within a 12-month time frame.”
— Joe Sherman, December 2005
The result is Beautiful Veins, Joe Sherman’s final book of poems. Joseph Sherman, author of seven books of poetry, editor, and supporter of the arts, died on January 9, 2006, in Charlottetown. He was 60.
Beautiful Veins begins with the picture of a child, of “one life with all the promise of its beautiful veins.” Some of the poems catch details of domestic life and its indwelling spirit and glancing irony; they explore the cache of memory. Others evoke history and landscape, opening them up to careful consideration. Always there is a love of language and its quirks, oddities, split-levels, riches. Out of the intricate and elliptical syntax, moments of joy are discovered, named against the threat of time and illness. A poem ends, in its own kind of triumph, “I would rather be beautiful than dead.”
"This book is colourfully populated with human figures - little David with his 'fake'sixth birthday, Pete who 'recycled through his nose' country blues, Uncle Tott who advised owning land but never had any himself. Yet the most fascinating figure of all is that of the voice behind the poems. Whether responding to personal and cultural histories, beloved works of art around the house, a symbolic seascape, or fearful hours of suffering, these poems reach us from the large heart and the precise mind that were present in Joe Sherman's poetry since the start. His 'loving riddles'go on echoing."
— Brian Bartlett, Wanting the Day
"Sherman knew the diagnosis was terminal. In the seven months he had left, he used the poetic power he had accumulated over a lifetime of looking affectionately at the things of this world, of giving meaning to them, of faithfully rendering them in fresh, original words in order to make them ours, the readers': his uncle, his stained carpet, his veins, his tea bowls, a woodcut, other poets, the PEI seabirds fearing the eagle. These are his last words to us: 'The red foxes are on the move.' I agree with him: 'Death can never be old news so long / as painted new.'”
— Nancy Bauer, The Irrational Doorways of Mr. Gerard
“In Beautiful Veins, the seventh and last of the Prince Edward Island poet's collections, we glimpse the depth and breadth of this much-loved poet's 'everything': his love of language, people and history; his devotions to family; his wit; his sharp mind and his graceful craft.”
— Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Atlantic Books Today