outskirts by Sue Goyette
Reviewed by Natalie Schembri (The Beat Magazine - August 8, 2011)
"...a lark of girls who’ve returned from their travels to sit now between us. And we lean
in towards you. A triad of mothers still sometimes waiting at the window. Who knew
it would all go so fast?
(“We Lean In, Closer,” 9-11)
Sue Goyette’s outskirts is a collection of poetry that reveals the intimate depths of human emotion and experience. The first poem of the collection, “Persist,” sets the tone for outskirts through the resonating statement “We are in a globe / theatre rehearsing tragedy. There are no lines,” (4-5) capturing the suffering and pleasure of life—its imperfect state.
The collection is divided into two parts: “my darkness, my cherry tree” and “the last animal.” Part One, focusing on familial relationships, is beautifully written and delivers visions of growth, hope and wonder for readers to reflect upon. Throughout the first part of outskirts, Goyette powerfully compares the human condition with visions of the natural world. “When did you / become part of the landscape,” (“Memoir,” 18-19) is a question that envelops the poems in this entire collection.
In contrast to the blissful harmony of the first section, Part Two, “the last animal,” presents an overarching dark and melancholic tone. Goyette places an emphasis on the notion of fog blanketing both the natural and familial worlds. The poignant poems of part two define moments of emotional loss and, simultaneously, highlight the erosion of the physical environment.
Goyette’s outskirts is an incredibly stirring read. As best stated in “Erosion: one,” each poem deals with the “natural process / that provides an argument for building better coastal nights” (2-3) in the construction of personal and familial identity. outskirts plays on the fringes of human emotion and fuses it together with reflections on the Canadian landscape.
I would highly recommend outskirts to readers who are curious about engaging in a lyrical heartfelt confession on the human condition.
For more information, visit http://www.brickbooks.ca/?page_id=3&bookid=228
Natalie Schembri is a recent Western grad who resides in London, Ontario.