Lying in Bed

Description

70 pages
Contains Illustrations
$7.50
ISBN 0-919285-06-6

Author

Publisher

Year

1981

Contributor

Reviewed by Norma Dillon

Norma Dillon, a poet, lived in Regina.

Review

You won’t find any clichés in this book of poetry. Indeed, from the outset of this witty, frightening, and often macabre collection of poems, the poet challenges the reader:

Bless me father, for I have sinned. I committed endoarchy two times, melanicity four times, enocropatomy seven times, and prepocity with ingeneous intent, pretolemicity and overt cranialism once each.

Altogether, do these “sins” “mean” anything? Satirical jabberwocky? Clearly; what we have here is not a communication disorder, but a poetic discourse about that. That, and guilt, accusation, and innocence, among other themes.

Many of the poetic narratives relate a tale that is either blatantly and/or allusively murderous (or suicidal). Whether a poem treats the narrative ironically (“too bad / I like my men / on the rocks,” p. 2), or with a lyric elegy (“i stay at the window / gulping / soft wet air,” p. 16), all of the poems reveal a certain casualness that acts as a distancing mechanism, enabling the poet to write about bizarre events:

she got out of bed

went to the balcony

and threw herself off

 
naturally

being board

she just cracked

The journey into fantasy always invites the dangers of nightmare and torture. One poem, “water dream,” depicts the realism in nightmares, and the nightmarishness of some realities:

i dive into a still brown autumn pond

beneath me

a pale black shadow

keeps gigantic pace

as fast as i flail

i never quite reach shore

it never quite devours me

This poetic preoccupation with crimes of the heart and crimes of reality does not completely overshadow what’s happening in the entire book; but, to understand the verse as an assemblage of poems that relate to one another, the reader must consider how the poet handles the volatile nature of the vision of woman as saint/martyr, and/or victim/persecutor: very carefully, frequently with humour, and always with great dexterity.

Citation

Howes, Mary, “Lying in Bed,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38528.