Borrowed Beauty


71 pages
ISBN 0-919001-38-6
DDC C811






Reviewed by Brian Burch

Brian Burch is a teacher, writer and poet and author of Still Under the


Borrowed Beauty is a book of political verse that feels like nature poetry. It has a hopeful, joyous rhythm that is too often lacking in poetry that has a social message.

Tynes writes of her experiences of growing up Black in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She shares with her readers a vision that the pain of people under apartheid, of those who refuse to live under the nuclear arms race, and of those who walk Hollis Street are all linked in song and love and strength.

She is willing gently to remind those of us who are aging activists and marched to end the War in Vietnam or to demand the release of Angela Davis that we have been co-opted, as in “Live Aid in a Basket” : “now / fat and complacent / with one finger on the t.v. trigger / we sit in our livingroorns / and think we are freeing the world.”

Tynes’s love poetry is not sentimental. When she describes love, it is the emotion of two strong people each delighting in personal freedom and in sharing. “Lost and Found” and “En Route” are poems of memorable strength, not soft images.

Perhaps Tynes is at her best describing the women who most strongly influenced her. Poems for her mother, Rita MacNeil, Salome Bey, and Linda all show a respect for the gifts each of these women gave her and, in some subtle way, the gifts she has been able to offer in return.

Borrowed Beauty is Maxine Tynes’s first book. Already she has found her own voice, has a mastery of her craft, and a clearness of expression rarely found so early in a poet’s career. She is certainly among the most talented new poets in Canada today.



Tynes, Maxine, “Borrowed Beauty,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,