Summertown

Description

48 pages
$9.95
ISBN 0-9685339-2-2
DDC C811'.54

Year

1999

Contributor

Reviewed by Beryl Baigent

Beryl Baigent is a poet; her published collections include Absorbing the
Dark, Hiraeth: In Search of Celtic Origins, Triptych: Virgins, Victims,
Votives, and Mystic Animals.

Review

Dedicated to Dr. Helen Morley, “For she has set her sights on
miracle,” this book is, one of a series published by St. Thomas’s
Church, Toronto. A publisher statement notes that the poets included in
the series “all share a perspective on human life that emphasizes its
metaphysical and philosophical dimensions.”

Summertown is a collection of 23 well-crafted poems that originate
directly from the attentive eye that focuses a constant gaze on life.
Corkett, who works at Canada’s peace site, the Sharon Temple, never
merely glances at her environment. Instead, she sees the connections
between all things and her opening poem comments that “No thing is /
named / for itself / but for its resemblance / to another.”

The title poem demonstrates this duality/connectedness in its two
sections: “Mrs. Noss” and “Off-Season.” Mrs. Noss and her “old
bachelor sons” form the cleaning team that appears following the
summer season and after “The summer people have gone.” Mrs. Noss
will remain a “soul scrubbed clean” in the “dim canopied centre”
when it is overgrown by wild roses, even if the “summer flock never
again return.” “Off-Season” is set prior to the arrival of the
vacationers. Its protagonist is “our gentlest millionaire” who
arrives “too soon” and shares his desires and philosophy with the
ferryman. The ferryman is the millionaire’s antithesis—pragmatic and
sensible, he is concerned only with his “first run of the day,” the
loading of “ten / bags of chicken scratch” and the “wait for the
mail.”

Corkett’s similes and metaphors can be seen in an expanded light when
one recognizes that separateness and attachment can, and do, occur
simultaneously. Thus, in “Columba on Iona” the peregrination of this
saint is coupled with his life as “a cornerstone,” and in
“Musician with Flowers” we read that “art is / neither the
performance nor / the performer.” Connection and cleavage are also
demonstrated in “My Lord Winter,” in which “My lady is high
summer” and readers are reminded that “My lord and lady walk and
land” but never “hand in hand together.”

The “miracle” in Corkett’s writing is its intimacy with all
things, and in the detail that feeds the soul.

Tags

Citation

Corkett, Anne., “Summertown,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/8443.