The poems in Any Waking Morning probe deeply into love, loss, and life's darker dilemmas. They seek pathways and meaning, interrogate endings and life changes, and tap the creative energy engendered through art's ekphrastic cycles. While foregrounding the influence of contemporary ideas on the author's poetic explorations, the collection returns inevitably to images, insights and experiences from the Caribbean and the author's early life. Unfolding in four sections: "The Way Light Falls," "Unmasked," "Beyond Convergence," and "Fragments and Heartwood," Soutar-Hynes' images are vividly pictorial.
Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes is a Jamaican-Canadian, poet/educator and former nun. A Fellow at Scotland's Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers in Fall, 2009, her literary publications include the collections: Dark Water Songs (2013); Travelling Light (2006), long-listed for the 2007 ReLit Poetry Award; and The Fires of Naming (2001). Published in Canada, the UK and The Netherlands, her work includes poetry and essays in journals and anthologies and chapters in edited books. She lives in Toronto.
"Mornings, for Soutar-Hynes, are waking to a sensual surround, to thought, and writing. Her poems convey a painter's gaze, alert to subtlety of colour, tone; their sculptural presentation on the page gives visual pause, pace, emphasis. They ask to be read aloud. I listen for Soutar-Hynes' voice: a cheeky afterthought; a personal disclosure ('so nun and ex-nun... Westbound'); her musings--that like moving currents--are 'spidered paths,' and lines falling "out of true." Soutar-Hynes' contemplative self emerges in ekphrasis, as well as in stark oddities, such as looking for heart in Toronto's 'cranes above the gridlock--/a city's steel-winged/choreography' that amazingly become 'love's blind ... hoist and hook/its latticed boom.' This is wonderful writing; I let the 'made-ness' of these poems, complicated by white space, reroute my heart and senses; let Any Waking Morning's 'boom' everberate in me."
--Cordelia Hoogland, author of Trailer Park Elegy
"Any Waking Morning is a reminder to unveil our selves, to give up our disguises--reve ling our selves to ourselves. Soutar-Hynes probes human frailty - the roles we adopt to protect ourselves creating 'ordinances/ a chain-link fence/ around the heart's perimeter.' Her call to 'enhanced economies of grace to/ account for what we see' is profound, for without grace, unmasking ourselves becomes an uncertain process. She issues a plea to 'honour fissures' and 'take an axe to craft [to] replace resin with transparency.' Here Soutar-Hynes' words are reminiscent of Annie Dillard's entreaty to seek meaning in fissures and wild places where the hand of God resides. In the end, Soutar-Hynes turns to the 'Heartwood' of the final section: '[t]hose surprising moments, shaded and imperfect, when the sun comes/ conjuring truths--/ curves and gestures shoreline's limen/...the island's edges/ everything.' This is where we find those centering things that make us whole."
--Carmen Shields, Ed. D, Professor of Graduate Education, Nipissing University
"Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes' fourth book, Any Waking Morning is a luminous collection of poems, combining delight in the senses, intellect, emotion, and spirit. These poems are full of multi-layered, painterly images, which let the reader see what she sees--roots of trees growing upward, bluebirds, constellations, cranes high over the city-- and also feel the emotional resonance of these things. Love and loss weave together in the four sections of the collection. Some of the poems take us to Soutar-Hynes' childhood in Jamaica, others to modern Toronto. I love the musical flow of her lines, the internal rhymes, the visual shape of the poems on the page. She is a care-ful poet, naming and articulating with care and caring about her subjects and her language. The poems invite us to "wake up" any morning - today! - and become more attuned to the world around us and in our hearts."
--Ellen S. Jaffe, poet, author of Skinny-Dipping With the Muse
"Saturated with colour and ekphrastically fueled, the poems in Any Waking Morning are sparked by Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes' engagement with science. She follows the graceful trail of her imagination to map a path of phrase and pause. An engaging collection."
--Catherine Graham, The Celery Forest