The poems of The Poison Colour, Maureen Hynes's fourth collection, while moving onto more experimental ground than her previous works, retain her strong, personal voice. Looking through "the peepshow of the past," she finds the essential question: what makes us human. Beads from a broken necklace, a rosary, bounce down the centuries to link Hynes's mother's life with women's lives from earliest times. In our cities, traces of forgotten places and people: like the artists of the arte povera movement, Hynes attends to the "poor materials" of daily life, whether intimate or public - plywood and concrete, tarpaulin and wool, clay and asphalt. What poisons us? What enlivens us? Can one element do both? Here "the elements shift from breath to roar, warmth to sear, solid to quake. Consolation to destruction."
Maureen Hynes (www.maureenhynes.com) lives in Toronto. Her first book of poetry, Rough Skin (Wolsak and Wynn, 1995), won the League of Canadian Poets' Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry by a Canadian. Her second collection, Harm's Way (Brick Books, 2001), was followed by Marrow, Willow (Pedlar Press, 2011) and then The Poison Colour (Pedlar Press, 2015), which was a finalist for both the League of Canadian Poets' Pat Lowther Award and Raymond Souster Award. She is poetry editor for Our Times magazine.
Beth Follett lives in St. John's NL and is the publisher of Pedlar Press. Her first novel, Tell It Slant, was published in 2001 by Coach House.
One of the things we want from poetry is to be surprised by our recognition of a truth. Edmund Wilson called it the "shock of recognition." We like inventiveness; we like a new way of seeing or saying. But if what a poet presents strikes us as inauthentic, biased, or as caricature, we are disconcerted. The poems by Maureen Hynes ring true.Marrow, Willow presents to us the life of a mother, daughter, lover, friend -- as tourist, newspaper reader, moralist, artist, poet, comedian. Hynes places her speaker/observer in a world that extends from galaxies to ions, from refugees and the victims of torture to the joys of a fortunate childhood, from sexual rapture to the distress of loss. Hynes's perceptions and metaphors are never outré, but are often startling in their aptness and domesticity: "Melancholy and joy, each one soaked and felted / with the other, a seamless overcoat" ("Ghazal for Summer's End"). Some of us may recall that other seamless garment: Hynes knows that this felted togetherness of sadness and joy is the human condition. It is what we bear, what we wear. -- The Malahat Review
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