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Praise for House Built of Rain

“‘A man is singing karaoke/ in the Seabus terminal./ His voice is a ghost’s/ making a gape in the air/ as it moves out/ among the commuters. . .' Thornton lives in North Van, and this collection is rich in allusions to Lonsdale, the Capilano River, blue buses and other North Shore places and things (and moods). His poems are descriptive and observational and seem to exist in the dark wet shadow of the mountains.”
-George Fetherling, Vancouver Sun

"Why doesn't Russell Thornton have a wider readership? . . . Thornton has written another collection of deeply affecting, impeccably constructed poems that recover and restore a life lived, imagined, re-lived and ultimately wrested from the swamp of the personal to become common language. Parable, oneiric memoir, family history and flights of song all appear in House Built of Rain, acting as guides through equally enthralling stretches of pain, love, loss and restoration. These poems gain much of their integrity from Thornton's facility with rhythm and metre. The well-timed, piercing images adorning these lines are carried along on a calm river of pentameter that Thornton varies or ruptures where emotional stress dictates. The abiding connectedness of things not human, in spite of and alongside the human, places Thornton's poems somewhere in the West Coast tradition started by Robinson Jeffers. And he extends that tradition with a saturation of beauty and brutality. You'll want many of these poems near at hand for the next time circumstance seems set to devour you."
-Ken Babstock, Globe and Mail

“Always alert to the ephemeral, Thornton makes of spring’s first sparrows ‘little light-carpenters,’ because the season will end; he looks with tenderness at the ‘woe-papery faces’ of late-night bus travellers, knowing that daylight will flatten those faces. And so, when in a gritty, long-gone North Vancouver bar of his memory he sees Cézanne’s apples ‘about to slide off new surfaces,’ one admires not only his startling juxtaposition but his ability to see what others would have missed, to trust what he sees, to make us see it, too.”
Stephanie Bolster

“I’ve long been a fan of Russell Thornton’s expansive, exquisitely detailed, eloquently transformative poems. Whether he’s writing about the sadness of Nogales prostitutes, the ‘precise fury’ of a father’s loneliness or the longing for a certain green-eyed woman, Thornton creates breathless, sensual, hymn-like poems filled with courage and love. House Built of Rain is a beautiful book and could easily melt the hearts of stones.”
-Barry Dempster

“Masterful lyrics and short narratives of great beauty by a fine poet. They are impeccable in their craft. You read them, only to go back and read them, carefully, again.”
Patrick Lane

“These luminous poems are gestures toward the infinite that contain all the gritty particulars of the everyday. The seamless movement through memories of a father, exotic travels, and back to the ravines of North Vancouver brings us to a place where the descent and the ascent are one: ‘as I descend,/ I am ascending, more and more leaves flowing into my arms and away.’”
Susan McCaslin

"Throughout most of Thornton's poetry, the poet's voice is skilled, assured, mature. There is sensitivity and levity to his observations, whether of family or of sights seen on travels. ... House Built of Rain is a solid work by an accomplished and gifted observer of life, a genuine poet."
-Sally Ito, Prairie Fire

"[Thornton's] use of refrain, cumulative syntactical effects, an easy, loping line, a vanishing, meditative or spiritual reach all have a mesmerizing ebb and flow to them. In another poem, "Circle of Leaves," falling foliage has a... hypnotic effect, leaving us feeling in descent as though we were bouyant, lighter than air, and the effect is characteristic of the poems as well...So we pass through these mist-enveloped poems, 'letting the good dreams go through / but holding onto the bad ones / until they dissolved and vanished."
-Jefferey Donaldson, University of Toronto Quarterly