It is ironic that Michael Ondaatje is a writer who exemplifies every aspect of the Whitman tradition in American poetry, for he is a Canadian Writer, though once removed, since he was born and spent his boyhood in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). His exotic story is told in a work of prose, Running in the Family, which most people read as if it were poetry. Indeed, Ondaatje is a melting pot of techniques, and his work, as Whitman said of his own, "contains multitudes."Moving in and out of imagined landscape, portrait and documentary, and anecdote and legend, Ondaatje writes for the eye and the ear simultaneously.
Ondaatje's writing can take the form of intense lyric poems, as in "Kim at Half an Inch":
Brain is numbed is body touch and smell, warped light
hooked so close her left eye is only a golden blur her ear a vast musical instrument of flesh
The moon spills off my shoulder slides into her face
It also can look like prose but work as poetic language and...