Adagio for Su Tung-p'o

Adagio for Su Tung-p'o
Poems on How Consciousness Uses Flesh to Float Through Space/Time
Rob Jacques
2019- December
Fernwood Press


The ancient Chinese poets loved ambiguity, loved paradox, and would have loved the puzzling, reality-defying entanglements that frustrate and fascinate us today. They would have laughed at them, too, while exchanging good wine and poems with each other as they watched the moon rise and be reflected in the hundred rivers flowing through the thousand mountains surrounding them and all the ten thousand things.
Rob Jacques hears these poets, invoking their lines in an adagio - pursuing the metaphysical conjoining of life and love with eternity.
Read and perceive how thin the veneer of science and technology is, how easily it is rubbed away, and how profound the mystery is that flows just beneath it.


“Rob Jacques shares my love of interior dance that expresses itself in words—too shy for the dance floor, but not for the page. I’m not surprised we were born on the same day.”
—Bill Porter, author of Finding Them Gone: Visiting China’s Poets of the Past

“Rob Jacques hears thousand-year-old voices of Chinese poets and responds with new songs and harmonies. His works are beautiful testaments to poetic connection and the contemplation of space, body, and mind.”
—Deng Ming-Dao author of 365 Tao

“When Einstein taught us that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared, he was projecting a sacred truth against the veil of life. In Adagio for Su Tung-p’o, Rob Jacques invokes the masters of ancient Chinese poetry to pull back that veil and illuminate the concepts of time, presence, love, memory, and even physical death. For all its quiet moments of observation and contemplation, this book is a big bang. The epigraphs themselves connect the spaces between the stars and are worthy of a stand-alone read. When those epigraphs become passages into the physics and metaphysics of Jacques’ own existence—a life well-lived and the sparks and spirits having carried that life—Adagio takes on a form and genre all its own. Part spiritual autobiography, part homage to timeless poetry, and part blueprint to quiet the noise—or at least to give it a closer listen—Rob Jacques has blurred and crossed all the lines, which, in a paradox Su Tung-p’o would have loved, makes the beauty of simply being crystal clear.”
—Bryan Borland, author of DIG

“At this fraught political moment, Adagio for Su Tung-p’o is like one long centering prayer spoken for the soul of the world. Read Rob Jacques’ deeply-mined meditations slowly, one by one, until you feel your own consciousness uplifted by these ‘orchestrations of space and time and death . . . revealing a metaphysical purpose for breath.’ His poems show us those deepest truths ‘in between life’s arias and wails’ by looking head-on at the endless back-and-forth of the human mind with undeniable humility and precision.”
—James Crews, author of Telling My Father

“Rob Jacques’s poems take us on a monk’s journey toward discovery, holding up to the light the ways in which the material world fails us. Desire, love, youth, aging, death—these poems ask: what withers away, what remains? The poems in Adagio for Su Tung-p’o each open with an excerpt as a way to spur their thinking, and Jacques examines the metaphysical with wisdom, nostalgia, and grace. By engaging with these poetic sources, Jacques finds connection and revelation by calling back to Su Tung-p’o through a lyric history in order to, through language, close that distance.”
—Jacques J. Rancourt, author of Novena


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