Long Girl Leaning into the Wind


66 pages
ISBN 1-894294-21-1
DDC C811'.6




Reviewed by Laura M. Robinson

Laura M. Robinson is assistant professor of children’s literature at
Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario.


Friendships, animosities, sexual encounters, and children are among the
subjects explored in these graceful, finely tuned poems. In relating the
story of a blossoming friendship, the title poem, “Long Girls Leaning
into the Wind,” indicates the overarching message of the volume: one
might have to push against the wind, to fight the elements and nature,
but what an exhilarating challenge that can be.

Fraser’s poetry is full of startling metaphors. In “December
Apple-Picking,” she writes, “Yellow skin of apple hangs in the sky,
its white meat below lies in drifts. The air is bite cold.” She
deploys these metaphors to crack open relationships of all kinds: the
farmer to his land, the daughter to her father, one hateful sister to
another, friends to each other.

One particularly notable poem is “Cleaning Ladies,” in which she
examines two of the poet-persona’s childhood cleaning ladies. The
perspective is that of a child’s, revering and respecting these women,
but it is written with the knowledge and savvy of an adult. Quiet,
submissive Ruby turns out to be “resplendent on that steep dirt
hill” when the poet-persona has cause to visit her at her home. The
issue of sexual abuse receives an equally nuanced treatment in “Boxed

The poems that end the volume—ones about the poet-persona’s
children—exhibit less of the freshness and energy that characterized
the earlier poems.


Fraser, Janet., “Long Girl Leaning into the Wind,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/7467.