The deepest of loves: Jude Neale’s A Quiet Coming of Light

Jude Neale. A Quiet Coming of Light
Jude Neale. A Quiet Coming of Light: A Poetic Memoir. Lantzville, B.C.: Leaf Press, 2014.
~Reviewed by Norma Dunning


When I read, A Quiet Coming of Light, I found myself thinking that, if author Jude Neale loves you, she loves you with the deepest and purest of loves. Neale is a writer of love, whether it is for her parents or twin brother or her children who are blessed to have a mother who writes her adoration into her work. At the same time, Neale is not afraid to write of disappointment or unhappiness.

When Neale speaks about her family, her words are kind-hearted, even when she is speaking about pain and trauma. “A Study in Cool” and “After All These Years,” for instance, are tributes for her parents. She presents us with her mom and dad:

My dad wore a silk stocking
over his jet black hair
when he was a kid.
…He looked dreamy
in that smoky-eyed way of Brando or Dean
…My mother liked to
run her fingers through it
It’s his best feature, you know.
He’d smile
that sly smile.

Somehow, as the reader, we know that this small stroking of a man’s hair is something Neale’s mother continued to do into old age. When we see Neale’s mom again, she is elderly and alone:

Mom still waits for his footfall
even after all these years.
She fingers the photograph
of the face she loves better than her own.

Neale places that image of a woman waiting for the sound of a heel on the floor made by the man she loved most and best. Even through the deep sadness, the kindly love is what dominates the poems’ moods.

If I could ask Neale to try anything with her words, it would be to stop writing the word that, along with all the other small, unnecessary words that clutter up the images and stall this reader’s mind, halting Neale’s profound thoughts in small jerking stops and starts. Remove the so that’s along with the nows and, whenever you write them onto the page, rewrite them until they are gone.

However, in spite of some weaknesses in the writing, overall Neale takes us into worlds that are not easily entered—and that is a formidable strength. She is brave to share her life openly and plainly, and, if you are loved by her, count your very lucky stars.


Norma Dunning is a beneficiary of Nunavut. She is most grateful and humbled to her home-supporting community of Whale Cove. She is an urban Inuit writer, and a first-year PhD student with Indigenous Peoples Education at the University of Alberta.


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