A beautiful and moving work

Susan Ioannou’s Looking for Light is a book of many strengths. Its structure carries us surely and gracefully ever inwards through its first two sections, dealing with travel experiences and then with some of the profound existential questions raised by the world that we’ve explored—only to focus its third section with laser-like intensity on the more personal matter of aging and what Philip Larkin called “the only end of age.” Its depiction of places and persons renders them in full colour, all the more poignantly in face of the partings that are to come. And its deft handling of that primary instrument of poetry, metaphor, wins an often open-mouthed admiration, as “when the sun slips / its bloodied fin / under the waves,” or when light is described as “like a clean sheet / the sky pulls taut,” or when on a dark lake “the moon / unbinds her braids.” However, I felt the strongest aspect of the collection was its use of a two-letter word: “we.” These are not solipsistic poems that lose their focus in the first-person singular, nor is their use of the plural in any way preachy. Rather, Ioannou looks at life from vantage points which we (not a rhetorical figure but a real mutuality) can all share, reaching out to her readers and validating their joys and fears as reassuringly characteristic of life in the early twenty-first century. Read Looking for Light and join in the looking, seeing in its “we” both a mirroring and an enlightenment. A beautiful and moving work.

- John Reibetanz, poet