Poetry book fine travelling partner

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October 29, 2013

The Book of Places

 By Yvonne Blomer

Black Moss Press

2012, 95 pages.

Reviewed by Arleen Pare

            Book of Places is a neat little square of a book that would fit into most back pockets, most backpacks, most travel bags going most places in the world.  It’s a fit travel companion too, covering not only geographic space, but also psychic space. Adulthood, for instance.  The Past.  And Japan, Thailand, Wales, England, Rhodesia, Canada, Nevada.  Exile.  Sorrow.

But first, full disclosure: the author of The Book of Places, Yvonne Blomer, is a friend of mine. And while it is generally agreed that friends should not review the books of friends, in the case of Blomer, this becomes difficult.  Blomer knows almost all the poets and writers in Victoria, maybe in BC, and many are her friends. She has served as representative for The Federation of BC Writers, continues to host of one of Canada’s most successful reading series, Planet Earth Poetry; and she teaches writing at Camosun College. She knows writers.  Who possibly could review this book without sharing some writerly connection?

The Book of Places is Blomer’s second book of poetry. Her first, a broken mirror, fallen leaf was short-listed for The Gerald Lampert Award in 2007.  Her third, As if a Raven, has just been released.  She has published two chapbooks, has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, and co-edited, along with Cynthia Woodman Kerkham, the recent Poems From Planet Earth, itself a stunning anthology.

Places is divided into three parts, with each section occupying a slightly different landscape.  In the first section, for instance, Blomer offers the reader a range of physical places: a field with a woman in it; a desert with a man in it; a road with a boy on it.  All beautifully rendered: in the desert, the “light is pixilated / feather-patterned through dust.”   From “Woman in a Field:” The sun so bright, almost / bright enough to hold her there.”

And “Packing to Leave,” a travel poem, begins with the advice: “Take nothing. All this is someone else’s,” and ends with: “Take your toothbrush / Whisper into the hollows of the house / leave your name.”  Poetic advice, and haunting, the advice of a poet who knows her craft and who has left home.  Blomer is also an avid, no, make that a passionate cyclist. When she writes “Cycling home, Norwich,” she creates a cadence, a tone so true, so convincing, the reader is on the bicycle with her:

the way I let it soar and fall

around each aching corner. How

I barely look up at church, Medieval

stone buildings, the city hall

and falling down, dropping now toward taxi stand, market

I roll: body still, arched, ready

to spring loosely over bumps and bricks I know

are coming.

I must recommend this slim, squared volume, the perfect travel size.  The perfect trip.  And though Blomer has travelled much and far, about places, she admits, “I never knew/ how to leave/ and stay, all the same,” touching on one of the basic conundrums of life, whether in this place or that.

Arleen Pare is a Victoria poet and novelist.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

cynthia November 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Beautiful review of a stunning book.

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