Courage Underground.


86 pages
ISBN 978-1-55071-245-4
DDC C811'.6





Reviewed by Sheila Martindale

Sheila Martindale is poetry editor of Canadian Author and Bookman and
author of No Greater Love, her sixth collection of poetry.


This collection is certainly not for the squeamish, since the subject matter is extremely visceral. In many cases various internal organs are used merely as metaphors, but this does not prevent the descriptions from being graphic.


The book is divided into four sections, entitled “Elegy for a Vital Organ,” “Enter the Bones,” “The Real Meaning of Life,” and “Out of the Body.” Many of the poems deal with organ transplants done legally or illegally, donated willingly or under duress. The feelings of the poet (whether as donor, recipient, or onlooker) on these matters are noted. The poet refers to previous eras in which the liver, rather than the heart, was perceived to be the seat of all emotions.


In addition to these gut-felt thoughts, there is a poem about carrier ants disembowelling a chickadee, one about an earwig in the ear, another about gnats in the eyes, and another about a widow cutting off her left hand with her late husband’s table saw to prove what he had said about the tool’s accuracy and sharpness.


Roorda’s writing is clear and accessible, and she gives the reader new and interesting perspectives on topics not often favoured by poets. Courage Underground should be read in small segments, and not around food or at bedtime.


Roorda, Julie,, “Courage Underground.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,