outskirts by Sue Goyette
Reviewed by Aaron Brown (The Canadian Book Review, June 5, 2011)
It’s been over a month since the last review on my site. I took a bit of time to focus on some non-Canadian reading but have now cycled back on the bookcases to some more CanLit. So to kick off the return to reviewing after my brief hiatus I picked up Nova Scotian poet Sue Goyette’s new collection from Brick Books outskirts. I have read Goyette’s poetry before and have always been impressed by her seamless ability to weave complex and sometimes outright strange metaphors into her poetry. When I saw she had a new collection coming out I was very excited. This collection is a great addition to her small but already impressive catalog. As a reader experiencing Outskirts you begin to feel that the author not only writes in metaphors but thinks in metaphors, lives in metaphors. Goyette is on a completely different plain-of-existence than many, if not most, active poets in Canada.
The poems of Outskirts look to blend the worlds of human existence and the natural world. In many of the pieces, especially the longer multi-part poems, everyday life and everyday living is juxtaposed to these sweeping visions of natural beauty. She picks out elements of nature like forests, weather, oceans, and everything in between. The techniques that the author uses to get these ideas out increases the joy of reading this collection. The book contains a mix of prose and verse poems. In the verse poems Goyette bucks the current Canadian trend of short and punchy lines in favor of long, slow, and flowing verses. The structure of the poems are almost a mirror of the expansive natural scenes that they are musing on.
2011 has been such a wonderful year for new collections of poetry from Canadian authors. I can easily see outskirts making its way onto some shortlists when the fall literary award season rolls around. Looking at Sue Goyette’s biographical note at the end of the book already reads like a great career, not just someone with a few books on the market: nominations for the GG, Pat Lowther Award, Gerard Lampert Award, Atlantic Poetry Prize, Dartmouth Book Award, and the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize. This collection is a must have for all readers of Canadian poetry and poetry in general. outskirts by Sue Goyette is published by Brick Books and more info is available here.