This is the sixth collection of poems by Ron Charach, who is a psychiatrist in Toronto, Canada. [See annotations in this database on Past Wildflowers and Petrushkin!] Charach explores his interior landscape with insight, wit, and a prodigious ability to tell a good story. In this collection the poems hone in on the rough, crab-like appendages of mid-life--failed relationships, maturing children, and the existential confrontation with an "uncaffeinated life."

The book begins in the deep waters of outrage, "You are the last objective correlative / the great depression / at once receptive and forbidding . . . " ("Words with the Mariana Trench") Many of the book’s early poems deal with isolation and failure--"YOU NEVER FELT MY PAIN FOR TEN SECONDS." ("Squeezing the Barbarians")--the special angry detachment of love gone sour ("Could my charms have dried up so quickly?" in "Burn Ward.") Later in the book, the poet speaks of friendships ("Rocks and Ages"), life events ("Courtesy of Plastic"), and the larger social and cultural context of his life ("Appelfeld").


One of the chief characteristics of Ron Charach’s poetry is the light, but incisive, manner in which he approaches his subjects. While he often deals with serious topics, he does so in a refreshingly oblique manner, poking holes in the poetic balloons of earnestness and self-importance.

Unlike some of his earlier collections, Dungenessque contains few poems that have any direct relationship to medicine, psychiatry, or healing. (One exception is "R. D. Laing," in which the famous anti-psychiatrist begins to cry in the middle of a lecture, and is comforted by an unlikely colleague.) Yet, though he ranges through a variety of topics, this poet brings to each one a clinician’s eye and a healer’s (sometimes stern) compassion.


Dungenessque won the Henry Fuerstenberg Prize for Poetry (2003).


Signature Editions

Place Published

Winnipeg, Manitoba



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