Ioannou touches everything: beauty, love, death

In our world so damaged, so desperate, and so beautiful, “What does it mean to honour the Muse?” asks poet Susan Ioannou in her new collection, Looking for Light. “I have chosen words to be my light and darkness too,” she writes in the epilogue, and I am so grateful that she did. I first discovered Susan Ioannou in 2007 while searching for a poem I could use to compose a piece that was to be performed in the old, restored Britannia Mine in Squamish, B.C. I found her book Looking Through Stone: Poems about the Earth, and chose “Oracle Stones”. That evocative poem was filled with gorgeous imagery of stones, pebbles, gems, the sea, and “a sparkling Trickster”. Nine years later, Looking for Light blends Ioannou’s considerable knowledge of physics and nature, with her lyrical, imaginative language and searching spirit to ask, “Where is the radiant figure/I crave, to comprehend,/to shiver to accept/the brutal amid beauty,/love in spite of evil/—my uneasy wonder?” We learn of a painter, a sculptor, a Latin dancer; we time-travel with Shelley, conjure the Far North “—how can a single Spirit watch over it all?” Ioannou touches everything: beauty, love, death: “Is that how the last moment will feel: a distant tiny light, awaited star?” Ioannou laments all that we have ruined and lost, but never abandons us to hopelessness. “Contentment is imperfect, truth a cracked glass.” And though we “wrest in things we cannot recognize”, there is redemption, transformation, and this gifted poet’s prayer, “may you glimpse infinity’s more/as peace cracks you wide/open into its light”. Looking for Light is not only a welcome new collection of poetry from Susan Ioannou. This book will accompany me on my own journey, already a trusted friend.

- Leslie Uyeda, composer, Vancouver, BC