in the house of winter


ISBN 0-88978-2024
DDC C811'





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.


Haiku is a difficult form of poetry. The images are brief, and have gone before the reader can really grasp them, which is why they generally don’t work well at readings, as each poem needs to be read several times for proper enjoyment. My feeling is that books of haiku should be quite short for maximum appreciation of the content. This one is a bit too long.

Another problem, with untitled poems and unnumbered pages, is that images bump into each other, and it is sometimes difficult to know where one sequence ends and another begins.

Having griped about form and presentation, I have to say that these are beautiful poems. McKay has an exquisite touch. Her topics cover a wide spectrum, from domestic concerns:

pale fingers
polishing her days
a scent of lemon lingering

to the homeless:

as winter moths
the lost ones
drifting to ash can fires

Her love poems are delicate and just marginally erotic. Unfortunately one of the best ones is spoiled by the misuse of the word “lay.”

But this is a strong collection, the lines of which come close to Blake’s “world in a grain of sand.”



McKay, Anne, “in the house of winter,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 12, 2024,