Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Truth of Houses

The Truth of Houses / Ann Scowcroft
London, ON: Brick Books, c2011.
117 p.

This collection of poetry just won the Concordia University First Book Prize, just as I was finishing it. I can see why...although I picked it up months ago and started looking through it, it didn't catch me at first glance. But a few weeks ago I noticed it on the pile and opened it again. And this time I couldn't put it down. The poems are full of imagery, emotion and memory, and really snagged me.

I read her poem "Thirty Nine" just a few days before I turned forty, and it was very timely. These lines jumped out at me:

It never occurred to me I would have to gestate my life again,
that the angst of adolescence could return, that I could
step up to the mirror on a cold September morning,
see clearly all that had come before,

yet nothing, nothing of what lies ahead....

There are lovely poems in this collection, poems with horror embedded in the spaces between lines, nostalgic poems, gorgeous words and rhythms shared between pieces. I found some of my random favourite words as poem titles (ie: Quotidian -- I love that word!) This is Scowcroft's first collection, but she has been a long-time writer and editor, and it shows. The collection as a whole has a wonderful integrity, with the connections between the poems evident, and adding to their power.

Here are a few lines from one of my favourites, near the end, which has a musical phrasing, seeming to begin as a fugue of despair and then end in an uplifting major chord -- it is a beautiful read.

How to Begin

How to begin again and again?
All that must happen for eyes to flutter open,
spine to heave erect, legs to swing over,
feet to recoil then resettle against a cold floor.

How many hundreds of thousands of dishes washed.....
The telephone answered again and again, how many times
I'm fine? How many times the pencil grasped......

........all is new again --
as long as the heart can crack and scar,
bear the world into the world
just one more day.

Read it if you can -- there is much to explore in this collection, and I've found myself rereading and mulling over a few particular poems.


For this year's Canadian Book Challenge I've chosen as my theme "Small-Press-Palooza" Thus, for each book I'm including a link to the small press who has published it. Take a look -- there are wonderful small presses all over Canada!

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  1. This sounds like a real keeper. One of my all-time-favourite poetry collections is a Brick Book, Jan Zwicky's Songs for Relinquishing the Earth. This one sounds like it has a similiar feel.

  2. BIP - I haven't read the Zwicky -- will have to try it if it's one of your favourites :)


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