Poets strike at the heart
Reviewed by Bill Robertson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix, July 2, 2011)
Nova Scotia poet Sue Goyette offers observations somewhat similar to Crozier's in the first half of her new collection, Outskirts, though her poems have more to do with children recently left home and the camaraderie of old friends, as well as time's assaults on the body and the deaths of loved ones.
In We Lean In, Closer and The New Mothers she brings a dry wit to girls who've left home ("the different weather system of moods") and to those poor new mothers so anxious they "have to wash their water / with water" and later have to "bury their phones for a minute of peace / . while the earth rings beneath their feet." Goyette brings good humour to Kitchen Party and The Canadian Apology. In the first, she praises singers who can't sing a note and "continue to misinterpret the looks of surprise as silent praise," and in the second apologizes that a Canadian invented frozen fish filets, "because single-portion frozen dinners invented a new loneliness and the lonely bone, they say, is connected to the drinking bone."
And then in part two of her collection, the last animal, Goyette, still in poems acutely conscious of form, cleverly mixes concerns for the environment with equally strong concerns for critical thinking, for the family as a unit and its traditions and for society as a whole. For instance, as she addresses erosion in coastal areas, she notes, "Sleep is retreating. . In extreme cases, disappearing," and in Clear-Cut says that between "1975 and 1999, almost 10,000 kilometres of Nova Scotian curiosity was slashed and burned."