Ever since Emily Dickinson told us to tell it slant, poets have approached truth indirectly from refracted angles of their individual talent. In her fifth book of poetry Maureen Hynes approaches the truth through undercurrents of sotto voce, where words are overheard in quiet cadences. The cover of Sotto Voce displays a beige slope with a stand of darker trees, and an empty space for Hynes’s voice and vision to shape the contours of mind and landscape. Part of Bob Hainstock’s series of Simple Forms, the cover image, like the poetry within, conceals the quiet complexity of understatement. Just as Hainstock dots his landscape with rust patterns, so Hynes touches rusty railings to “etch a pointillism” on her palm. Indeed, through pointillist undertones Hynes indirectly apprehends many truths.
Witty and wise, Tamar Rubin’s debut collection, Tablet Fragments, fuses elements of her life as a doctor, mother, daughter, and Jew whose lineage is as varied as her verse. Her lyrics are pared down toward minimalism that nevertheless radiates outward, as her lines and margins leave room for breathing and meaning. From the opening poem, “Home Archeology,” to her concluding “Wedding Ceremony for Body Parts,” synecdoche recurs as a major stylistic component of her medical career and domestic conflicts. Hebrew fonts and backgrounds add resonance to these parts and create a wholeness from the fragments of tables and tableaux.
Dawn and dusk, autumn and winter thread through the Danish poetry of Ulrikka Gernes, whose Nordic melancholy transfers fittingly to Canadian sensibilities. Surreal dreamscapes suffuse this collection, which has been seamlessly translated into English by Patrick Friesen and Per Brask.