Caravaggio’s Dagger – Review by Dr. James Delgado, Director of Maritime Heritage, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Washington, DC

Dr. James Delgado, Ph.D. (Courtesy: www.nauticalarch.org)

Dr. James Delgado, Ph.D. (Courtesy: http://www.nauticalarch.org)

Jim Delgado and I met in 1996, when I was appointed Executive Director of the Vancouver Museum, and he the distinguished Executive Director of the neighbouring Vancouver Maritime Museum, a position he held for 15 years. In 2006, he moved to Texas as Executive Director, and later President and CEO, of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology; and, in 2010, became Director of Maritime Heritage in the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration in Washington, D.C. His activities as an author or editor of over 33 books are integral to his work as a maritime archaeologist and explorer.

Dr. Delgado writes on Amazon:

A Powerful and Essential Read

Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte. – Blaise Pascal, 1657

Pascal’s apologia that he had written a longer letter than planned because he did not have sufficient time to make it shorter is oft quoted and more often misattributed. I find truth in the power of fewer words in Hendrik Slegtenhorst’s book of poetry. On the question of the pursuit of right action, a lesser author and poet might pen a thick volume. Hendrik Slegtenhorst has brilliantly spoken in succinct verse, within 105 pages, and with a rich and magnificent vocabulary. In these poems, he makes every word count. Some are not pretty words – maggots, cars mutating to junk, the ooze of delicate poison stupefaction from the promise of the fountain of youth – and yet they hit the right chord, they sink in, and the meaning is clear.

In these poems, as he contemplates the adoption of courses thought to be right, often with cost, and at times with nothing but pain and sadness. This is an important part of life, and through his lens, Hendrik Slegtenhorst depicts it vividly. He sees it on a half deserted street, in the storage facility of a museum, in music, as well as art. A solid background in the classical arts, the humanities and an obviously perceptive eye for human nature distinguish both Hendrik and his poems.

In reading them, I find despair, see that part of existence which is dear and yet so painful, take journeys and see vivid images of places I too have been, physically and emotionally. As he writes, I can see in my mind’s eye scirocco-stirred sand flailing the waves on an ocean beach and hear madrigals of raging water. His ancestral Holland, his Canadian home, the echoes of his global travels resound in this book, made all the more precious by what clearly are reflection borne of personal experience.

The best books should make you slightly uneasy, probe your thoughts, and stir rumination. Hendrik Slegtenhorst’s poems do that for me, and for that gift I am grateful.

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