Dreaming Our Space


74 pages
ISBN 1-55071-152-0
DDC C843'.54





Translated by Marguerite Andersen and Antonio D'Alfonso
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.


Originally published in French as L’autrement pareille in 1984, the
prose poems in this collection speak of the difficulty of
mother–daughter relationships. The book is divided into four parts,
plus an epilogue.

Part 1, “Dreaming Our Space,” tells of the protagonist’s escape
from motherhood and “the nullified womb.” Andersen, like many
writers, searches for the words, through “Solitary. Soliloquy ... to
go to the deeper reaches of you which I can’t touch.” As an
alternative to the mother–child relationship, she wants “to remain
neutral by concentrating on what is before [her] and by encapsulating
the complex nature of simple things, the bonding between women.” Her
poem “Demented Demeter” expresses melancholy and despair against
which there is “no insurance.”

In Part 2, “Summer in Germany,” Andersen avoids the issues by
visiting her childhood home in Germany. She “recollects” her mother,
“gentle guardian of starched treasures,” and wants to ask for her
help. She recalls a lesson learned from her mother: “Each one of us is
fundamentally linked to the other and yet totally alone.”

The poet’s next escape is into a “Winter of Research” (Part 3) in
the library of a foreign university. Here she begins to recognize the
“Unhealthy attachment” she has with her daughter as she works in an
environment that resembles “a glass and concrete coffin.” As she
writes, “words calmly fall on virgin paper.” She has passed the
stage of labour and it is time to give birth “as a gesture of
freedom.” Now she defines herself as “Other.”

Part 4, “Finale and Prelude,” begins with images of water and
vapour. The daughter stays within the mother; the mother within the
daughter. An introduction comes to the “perturbing pater,” the
“facetious father / faceless faitor, fastidious patchocke.” The
mother has found the way to distance herself “without slipping into
the gray cloak of indifference.” She gives herself a pat on the back:
“Joyfully, I live with melancholy.”

Dreaming Our Space is perhaps best described as a poetic journal,
boasting the qualities of a therapeutic diary in which one bleeds out
one’s thoughts and feelings to assuage personal pain.



Andersen, Marguerite., “Dreaming Our Space,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17288.