Saturday, November 29, 2014

Abandoned by the Muse: A Bundle of Poetry by Bieke Stengos and i want a poem by Valerie Senyk, reviewed by Jean Mills

Two new poetry editions are a welcome addition to the growing list of titles at Guelph's Vocamus Press, a small independent publishing house with a mandate to support the local literary landscape.

In Abandoned by the Muse, Bieke Stengos explores the changing scenes of her speaker's life (the poet's, perhaps?) through the shifting landscape on the road between Guelph and Kitchener.

In these short, image-packed poems, the reader is along for the drive as trees, fields and sky transform from season to season, both on the land and as reflected in the speaker's heart and mind.

Stengos strongly evokes a sense of loss and longing, especially in the early selections. But that missing "muse" seems to be returning as the collection of 24 poems nears its conclusion: "The flaming tops of trees/Stretching to come alive."

In i want a poem, another recently released collection of short poems from Vocamus, Guelph theatre artist, painter and writer Valerie Senyk poses the question "What do I want from a poem?"

Using humour and vivid language (for example, in "Rodent Poem" she writes: "I want a poem to jump up off the page and bite me in the face"), Senyk offers a series of possible answers, each one allowing the poet, as she says in her preface, "to realize the pleasure of mixing together image, metaphor, and sound."

Each of these two small volumes of short, linked poems has its own voice and landscape — evocative and moody, cheeky and yearning — but both provide layers of language and meaning that allow readers to experience the poems' worlds more deeply with each visit.

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Jean Mills is a Guelph writer and author.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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