Other Words for Grace


96 pages
ISBN 1-55128-017-5
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Beryl Baigent

Beryl Baigent is a poet; her published collections include Absorbing the
Dark, Hiraeth: In Search of Celtic Origins, Triptych: Virgins, Victims,
Votives, and Mystic Animals.


Through a series of linked poems that resemble a dream sequence,
Christakos writes about the passage from childhood through puberty to
maturity. Three paragraphs, which she calls “forewords,” prepare the
reader for what is to come: the small child whose goodness is
“essentialized,” the accidents that remind her of girlhood, and the
“vertical [patriarchal] order of all things” in the northern town
where she matured. This book is about moving from “grace” to
“disgrace,” from “purity” to “sensuality,” from the
“little-girl face” to the “old-woman face” of “Grace, my
great-granny,” from virgin to crone.

Christakos arrives at her destination through three divisions.
“Deciphers” and “Sooth” are framing devices for the central
section, “The Grace Papers.” In the first section, Grace attempts to
discover meaning by searching out the whereabouts of the missing
girl/woman body. In the final section, she admits to the reality of her
life, the need to be sensual, whether heterosexual, homosexual, or
bisexual, even at the risk of “spilling gracelessness onto this

The main body of the volume invokes and juxtaposes a variety of women:
Charlie’s Angels and Lady Godiva, Olga Korbut and Karen Magnussen,
Yvonne Elliman (as Mary Magdalene) and Mary Tyler Moore.

Grace, from the theological perspective, is the supernatural power
given by God to the soul to enable it to attain virtue and salvation; it
is the state of the soul when free from sin. Other words for grace
include beauty, elegance, charm, kindness, mercy, prayer, and goodness.
The reader will find some but not all of these meanings in this volume,
in addition to words not traditionally associated with grace.


Christakos, Margaret., “Other Words for Grace,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1483.