Looking For Light
By Susan Ioannou
Trade Paperback: 81 pages
Publication Date: April 1, 2016
Suggested Retail (Paperback): $19.95
In a deeply troubled world, how is it possible to create beauty and meaning? This is the question haunting Susan Ioannou as her fourth major collection, Looking for Light, opens. As a poet she must try to reconcile the insistence of her Muse to Make it beautiful, with disturbing spectres, such as a homeless man struggling to warm himself on a sidewalk grate.
In an attempt to find such a balance, Part 1 follows the travels of the artistic imagination, from an idealized memory of Italy’s Bagni di Lucca where the 19th-century poet Percy Bysshe Shelley summered, to a train journey through eastern Canada’s Matapedia Valley symbolically uniting English, Native, and French. Closer to home, a romantic fantasy is inspired by a handsome student in a poetry class, a sculptor’s good intentions challenge–and are challenged by–her subject, and a passionate Latin dancer swirls after perfection.
In Part 2, Beyond Knowing, Ioannou’s questioning turns inward. Blending spirituality and an engagement with nature with the paradoxes of particle physics, she puzzles about the idea and experience of God and the mysterious forces that brought us into being and invisibly sustain us, body and soul. Who would be a God? she asks, but if so, what kind of God? The quest to resolve troubling contradictions ends with a surrealistic, pinball-like balance sheet dream.
In Part 3, Passing Seventy, Ioannou explores the transformation, both physical and emotional, as the final years of life unfold. With humour and compassion, she writes of the shocks brought by the mounting years: delight in finding oneself still alive on waking, the bizarre disorientation caused by a mini stroke, new stresses building despite the urge to prove oneself to grown children as still agile and able, and the consequent awakening to the struggles of even the tiniest life, a bug trapped in a bathtub. As the prospect of death and mourning draws nearer, there is a coming to terms with what is truly of value, as well as a new awareness that transcends individual human life with a larger vision of what may come after the inevitable ultimately happens.