Fire to the Looms Below


96 pages
ISBN 0-921556-09-8
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Betsy Struthers

Betsy Struthers, a poet and editor, is author of Saying So Out Loud.


Fires to the Looms Below is Welch’s tenth book of poems. The book is
divided into five sections. In the first, “Fugues,” are poems about
the various guises of love for women in marriage, in affairs, in
widowhood, in youth, and in middle age. The second, “Once Upon a
Time,” reflects on the writer’s childhood in and recent visits back
to her family home in Luxembourg. The third section, “Bookcase,”
presents poems about the works of other writers—including Gwendolyn
MacEwen, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, and Rimbaud—as well as about
the joys of writing and reading. “The World as Elegy” explores the
poet’s passion for mountain climbing and her grief for a friend, a
crippled climber who committed suicide. The final section,
“Inaccessible Peaks,” combines all these concerns in a moving
sequence of increasing power that won first prize in the 1987 Literary
Competition of the Writers Federation of New Brunswick.

To read this book is to be welcomed into conversation with a woman who
does not hesitate to illuminate the inner world of love and
contemplation, while at the same time daring to pit herself against the
physical world of mountains and motorbikes. There is a humane,
humanistic intelligence at work here, literate and lyrical. The poems
are all well crafted, musical in their rhythms and language, alive with
vivid image and reference to the cultural history of our world. This is
a mind at home in the world, both written and real—a mind that speaks
of love, the physical, and the intellectual with equal passion,
commitment, and grace.


Welch, Liliane., “Fire to the Looms Below,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 15, 2024,