Poems that give full attention to a world in shambles, a world in which "mercy is failing."
Maureen Hynes, in her fifth book of poetry, speaks tenderly yet vehemently about the threatened worlds that concern her. From Toronto, where she lives and walks the city's afflicted watershed, she turns her attention to the near and far, shifting it from the First Nations' stolen lands to Syria and the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean; from the deaths of family and friends to the newborns into whose care our endangered planet will pass; and from love's transient regrets to the sustaining love two women share. Hynes' is a gaze that grieves quietly, delights humbly, and, in the search for solace, never rests. Each poem in Sotto Voce is a recitative of healing. Hear the music in every word and, despite the damaged environments Hynes gives voice to, be restored.
This is a book that bears witness to the "dynamite stick of injustice," one that balances fear and hope, misfortune and renewal, calamity and natural beauty. Sotto Voce carries the complexity and seriousness of its themes lightly--it's important to know when to speak loudly, and when to whisper.
"...Sotto Voce is the sound of one of Canada's most accomplished poets writing at the height of her powers." --Jim Johnstone
"Whether speaking about nature, or politics, or love, Maureen Hynes does so with candor and compassion. These poems are generous and assured, and the world they circumscribe is the urgent, beautiful, dangerous place where we all live. Read Sotto Voce. Maureen Hynes is a poet at the top of her game." --Helen Humphreys
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.
Into the Humber River
Someone tore the hands off a big round clock, familiar
as a classroom compass & abandoned it
to the weeds. It took the time right out of us, poured
it through the small black circle in the clock's
centre & underground into the river.
It was a blessing to watch the hours & minutes
drain away. We didn't miss it the way we'd miss
our own hands. That sudden calm when time
disappears, the atmosphere soupy with fish & bug
& bird busy-ness, the glare of springtime green.
If you spoke into that empty hole, it would hold
your words & breathe them back to you
in the sensible prose of granite & bridge,
in bird vowels, cloud song, river.