Gathered from its author’s wide-ranging experience, Monica Kidd’s debut collection includes local legends and personalities, imagined scenarios based on found photographs, lamentations and confessions of love, lyrical studies of medical anomalies, and landscape portraits. Kidd’s deft imagery and songlike stride render her subjects in striking, familiar gestures that bring the reader alongside her gait and into her mind’s eye.
The collection opens with a series of poems that tell stories from Kidd’s adopted home in Newfoundland. A drowning, a shipwreck, a community referendum, an abandoned town, a birthday party and other landmark events are relayed in a fashion that relies less on strict narrative account than on associative brush strokes. Infusing her subjects with emblematic strength, Kidd resurrects family tragedies, nights of revelry and community politics in coastal towns.
“Found” is a collection of photographs purchased from a second-hand store in Winnipeg and paired with Kidd’s imaginative translations of their black-and-white foregrounds into full-colour memories. In one photo a woman surveys a snow-covered field, in another three young girls at the beach squint into the sun. How they got there, where they are going, and the expectations surrounding the captured moment are the poet’s invention.
Actualities closes with a sequence of “Field Notes” written during Kidd’s stay at a biology station on Lake Opinicon in southern Ontario. The notes address fields, woods, ponds, night skies and thunder storms, brought to the page with the country lilt and painterly memory that mark Kidd’s work throughout the collection.
Monica Kidd is the author of six previous literary books, most recently the poetry collection The Year of Our Beautiful Exile (2015). As well as writing, she has worked as a seabird biologist and as a reporter for CBC Radio. She lives in Calgary, Alberta, where she is a family physician, a fledgling letterpress printer and co-publisher of Pedlar Press.