downloadRecently enjoyed some shelf-roaming time in a large bookstore in Toronto, ON.  Of course, I eventually found myself in front of the poetry bookshelf.

I discovered ‘HELD‘ a remarkable collection from Elizabeth Burns [1957-2015].

I flipped the book open to a random page and without judgment or censorship, I share with you what I found at page 52, Making the moon jar.

I’d love to hear what you think, your reactions, what feelings or memories the piece evokes:


To make a jar as perfect as those from the Choson dynasty
– enormous rounded vessels used for storing grains of rice –
the potter must learn patience. Over and over again,
what emerges from the kiln is cracked or buckled, weak
at the circumference. Another one, flawed and unglazed,
heaved onto the truck, taken down the track into the woods,
where she smashes raw white pottery to bits and buries it.
Back in the studio, her hands shape into being two new hemispheres,
slippery as newborns. She balances one onto the other, smoothes
wet clay between them, makes them whole. First firing, no cracks yet –
she dips the vessel in a milky glaze. Another firing, then
the opening of the kiln-mouth, the lifting out: a full moon jar.
She moves around it, strokes the pearly skin of porcelain,
feels the slight ridge around the centre, an equator. Two halves
are joined. Her heart is singing at what her hands have made.

Publisher: Polygon an imprint of Birlinn Ltd.
ISBN: 978-1-84697-170-9
Cover Image: © The Trustees of the British Museum
Cover Design: Will Brady

Other “Off the Shelf” Selections.