outskirts by Sue Goyette
Reviewed by Rob MacLeod (Canadian Bookseller, Volume 3, fall 2011)
outskirts is a book that takes fresh and risky liberties with imagery and symbolism, successfully. Most poets, and prose writers too, for that matter, use metaphor to enrich and decorate the text. For Goyette, however, the metaphors are the text, and the surreal images relate to surrealism itself, just the way plain style sentences, in normal text, interrelate, when the world of everyday events is being depicted.
The poem “A Tired Woman Lies Down” begins with “And the snow feasts on her. And until it learns to speak, its tongue is Valium / and licks her to sleep.”
The poem, “Getting in the Ocean,” starts with “Don’t trust it. Your feet may test it, but it’s doing the tasting.” It ends with, “the predatory shark of dreams with their double row / of teeth and the expanse of sleep that barely manages to return us / back to shore.
In between these first and last stanzas the symbolism soars to the level of magic. Goyette compares the ocean to a fierce carnivore, to a stranger/lover, to sleep, to something that we try to catch.
With respect to surrealism, many modern writers use it more or less affectedly, without always having the depth of language or knowledge to do it well. But Goyette has mastered and transcended her words and symbols, the way the Old Dutch masters transcended their pigments.
There are fifty other equally fresh and original poems in this book.
The book is a tour de force. It’s breathtaking.
Rob MacLeod is a freelance translator copy editor and proofreader, as well as former associate editor of Anthos, Journal of the Arts.
page 43 - see the full issue here http://www.cbabook.org/files/magazine/cb_2011_Fall_20110823_LoRes_web.pdf