A Brief and Endless Sea

By Barbara Pelman

Categories: Poetry
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781773861258, October 2023
Expected to ship: 2023-10-13

Award-winning poet Barbara Pelman presents a life lived in poetry, delving into the small moments and spaces containing the greatest offerings of love, hope and possibility.


Born out of waiting out the lockdown during the early days of the pandemic, Barbara Pelman’s A Brief and Endless Sea explores the concept of ‘gaps’: those moments of nothingness that are paradoxically full of potential. Many of the poems are rooted in Jewish tradition: the Angel Purah who cuts the ties between soul and body; the prophet Isaiah’s words of comfort; the concept of “Tsimtsum,” a withdrawal in order to create space for something new. The poems in A Brief and Endless Sea reach toward a potential built from seeming emptiness; Pelman mines the depths, taking us to difficult places—the dissolution of a marriage, caring for a parent with dementia. But she doesn’t leave us there, waiting. Using the power of words to map a route out, A Brief and Endless Sea pulls us toward life in all of its vibrant details—the simple beauty of a small garden of tomatoes and roses, the pleasures of teaching high school and university English classes, long walks with a grandson, and encounters with spirituality. For Pelman, there is comfort in the making of a poem and in the “smallest life you can love.” Like the glosa form she turns to often, something small transforms into something larger, expansive. In A Brief and Endless Sea, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and waiting in itself presents fertile ground for hope and possibility.


“Barbara Pelman writes, ‘And seldom is there comfort,’ yet these poems, reaching back into the past and tentatively touching the future, do comfort the reader with their tenderness, wisdom, and grace.”

—Lorna Crozier