7 June 2017

dust or fire - Alyda Faber

This is the last book I have to review to catch up to my current reading, and another volume of poetry.

Disclaimer - this was written by one of my professors.  Or, now that I have graduated, I should probably say one of my former professors.  Though when I read it, she was still my professor.  Which brings up the question - how can I objectively review a book written by someone who is grading my essays?

Fortunately, I enjoyed this book.  (If I hadn't, I probably wouldn't be reviewing it on a public forum!)  I found it as compelling as a novel to read - I would be reading it at bedtime and think to myself, "just one more poem," which would inevitably become many more poems.  My first time through, I read the whole book over the course of two or three evenings, and as soon as I finished it, I turned back to the first page in order to re-read it.

What caught my attention with this book was the emotion captured both in the words and between the words.  The poems tend towards autobiographical, with the author capturing her family story as well as her Frisian heritage.

Take, for example, these tragic lines from "Paperpants"

Distress: the long aftermath
of a death, wishing
dead the undead parent,
wishing alive the dead
parent, the rages of an
infernal father hiding
love under piles of bones...

Or, from the central poem in the collection, "Leeuwarden Train Station"

After a week away, in the hall with a suitcase, my cat greets me with
a trill; I hold her close and kiss her.  I do not do this instinctively with

Though I found the overall tone to be melancholy, there was an overall movement towards hope and forgiveness and moving on.  Each word felt very precisely chosen so that each poem packed a big emotional punch despite appearing spare on the page.

I have heard that Alyda Faber (I feel like I should still be calling her Dr. Faber!) is working on another collection, and I look forward to reading it when it is published.

This is book 14/13 for the Canadian Book Challenge hosted by The Book Mine Set.

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