Travelling to Find a Remedy

Description

71 pages
$7.95
ISBN 0-86492-074-1

Year

1986

Contributor

Reviewed by Bev Daurio

Bev Daurio was an editor and poet in Toronto.

Review

Claire Harris was the 1985 winner of the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Time Published Poet for Translation Into Fiction (Goose Lane, 1984). This, her second book, contains some of the most interesting and accomplished long poems I’ve read in some time. Harris brings an intense metaphysical questioning to her work, using images of burning, physics, and ironic domesticity “slapping me / so He wouldn’t notice / her love” (“Every Moment a Window”) — to create a larger vision from a series of sharp glimpses.

The title poem is built on striking line play which alters rhythm sometimes page by page, sometimes within a page, and which subtly shades the meaning, the tempo, the mood of the reader. Harris creates a breathlessness, a hesitation before admitting love, with cropped lines that slide down the page; suddenly, the lines are justified, as if wanting both to be ordered and to extend off the page, but held back by that border, the margin.

In her shorter poems, Harris is adept at entering moments, at expanding their content — “against my stilled hibiscus red i am / crane’s pause wave’s warm tongues i am books and / the crouched woman’s scream then the flow / resumes” (“The Web”).

Equally comfortable with very long poems, the discipline of haiku, and forms between those two, Harris fits ideas to a size and shape which suit them perfectly. She elucidates moments of vision, shifts consciousness, and is constantly surprising. Claire Harris is an underrated writer who should be better known.

Citation

Harris, Claire, “Travelling to Find a Remedy,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/35055.