Another collection that will inspire

I first discovered the beautiful poetry of Susan Ioannou when I stumbled across her collection Looking Through Stone: Poems About the Earth. I was making paintings of stones and rock faces, and Susan’s words resonated through each brushstroke. From her poem Why, Susan writes: “Great ages echo and shiver / playing themselves out / within our puny bones.”

In her new collection, Looking for Light, Ioannou gives strength and form to the life experiences our puny bones endure. She continues her process of writing poetry as meditation, drawing details of everyday life, and in doing so she suggests that perhaps there is greater meaning to our existence than we might imagine. She pushes us to stretch our mind and consider other places, other people, and life beyond the television or the thought boxes we lock ourselves into.

The collection’s first section, Make It Beautiful, reveals a travelogue for the senses and the soul. Ioannou invites her readers to look beyond the daily serving of horrors to find beauty in words, nature, a pelican, strange places, dramatic weather. Her poems honour her muse, her friends, and Pollyanna.

In Part 2, Beyond Knowing, Ioannou shares the deep, rich curiosity about life that makes her work so thoughtful. She makes no claim to having all the answers—like any great poet—she dangles the words in front of our scanning eyes like charms on a bracelet, each word imbued with special meaning and memory of what has been and what might be.

As a woman turning 60, I was most drawn to Ioannou’s third chapter, Passing Seventy. This group of nineteen poems is a lyrical primer on things to come. She contemplates change, loss, grief and marvels at life as her themes. Again, she peppers her reader with poignant questions, “What else can we do? / Listen to weeds? / Sniff a path among stars? / Feel cold imperfection in a drop?”

Or this magnificent moment: “What if, in a little spider / scurrying over its glistening web, / a million years into the future / I have glimpsed myself?”

Ioannou’s keen curiosity has provided her readers with another collection that will inspire and contribute to anyone’s search for life’s meaning and wholeness. She does not disappoint and graciously leaves us with a heartfelt wish: “may you glimpse infinity’s more / as peace cracks you wide / open into its light.”

- Annis Karpenko, artist, Executive Director of Visual Arts Mississauga