Winter in Halifax

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Kelsay Books


The poems in Winter in Halifax are dreamy and conditional, achingly touching, and funny. Like the “suitcase full of tatterdemalion language” which the speaker in the title poem carries with him into the desolate pre-dawn city, along with his (grim) determination to celebrate, this collection is full of catalogues, surprising juxtapositions, vocabularies, rhythms, and rhymes. DeFreitas is a master and lover of language. And so the voice of these poems is alive and courageous, whether speaking of pain or of joy.

Hilary Sallick, author, Asking the Form


Winter in Halifax fizzes with spring—its narrator, “light-hearted as a florist in February,” nurses faith and hope. DeFreitas preserves details of the everyday—coffee, the kitchen light, snow on gravestones, St. Agnes’ bells—in lines that dance with rhythm and sing with rhyme. On display is precisely what the speaker in “Lingua Franca” wishes for: “[a] lithe and limber idiom…sassy brassy palaver.” Most moving are the poems of relationships: a boy at the beach with his father, a letter to a friend, a mother and son sharing memories. Tender and effervescent, this open-hearted work will surely hearten its readers. 

Mary Buchinger, author of e i n f ü h l u n g/in feeling


In Winter in Halifax, Thomas DeFreitas frequently manages to be both exuberant and elegiac within the same poem. He celebrates the haunts of his native Boston; he offers homage to Our Lady of Cambridge, a “spare-change Madonna.” His skillful use of language and form unerringly serves what’s being closely observed or recalled. It’s clear that the poets he celebrates here—Lorca, Hart Crane, Roethke—have become deeply part of his own sensibility. Each heartfelt salute to a cherished someone or to a special season or to a lost soul shimmers with a sense of inexorable change and loss.

Cathie Desjardins, Poet Laureate Emerita of Arlington, MA, and author, Buddha in the Garden