What's Between Us Can't Be Heard


120 pages
ISBN 0-894800-16-8
DDC C811'.6





Reviewed by Susan McKnight

Susan McKnight is an administrator of the Courts Technology Integrated Justice Project at the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.


Joelene Heathcote’s first collection of poems leads the reader into a
world of love, grief, pain, and redemption that leaves a lasting
impression. Her poetry is simultaneously personal and universal.

The first section of the book describes the poet’s life in North
Korea. References such as those to “the white riot of my skin”
convey a sense of not belonging; at the same time, there are poems that
communicate a feeling of total immersion in the Korean culture. The
second section deals with the beating and death of Heathcote’s only
brother. In “Everybody Was Twenty-One,” she describes the incident
and expresses her anger, her numbness, and her need to do something
coupled with her inability to do anything. The profound depth of her
loss flows freely, leaving an indelible mark. The common thread uniting
the poems in the last section (“How the Dying Move to Water”) is a
sense of sad acceptance that life is not always what we dream it will
be, but it is all that we have.

Heathcote is a recent recipient of the Mocambopo Prize for Poetry. Her
work has been published in several anthologies, and the Quill & Quire
has called her “one of [Canada’s] most promising emerging


Heathcote, Joelene., “What's Between Us Can't Be Heard,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17793.