outskirts, by Sue Goyette
Reviewed by Nico Mara-McKay (Shelf Life blog, August 2011)
outskirts is Goyette’s third book of poetry, following The True Names of Birds (1998, see above), and Undone (2004). The poems are presented in italics, as if whispered in confidence. The first poems relate the changes in her relationship with her children, who we first met in True Names. Her son is now a teenager, and her daughter is leaving for university. With this comes a change in focus, from her earlier poems rooted in the mysteries and charms of domestic life, to a widening area of concern.
In “Disrupted” Goyette confronts an imperfect world; in this case, embodied by the unruly children of our neighbours. “The world sometimes is a big wet dog shaking itself”, she writes. What we want: “Life but not with a mind of its own”. We want something we can control. Yet, if the outside world must intrude, why not well dressed, and with cakes?
While there were some poems I couldn’t get inside, on the whole outskirts is a strong collection. Goyette’s masterful use of vibrant metaphor spun through long, flowing verse carries the reader through, stirring up a wealth of images.