Initially, I opened Ioannou’s Looking for Light just to catch a preview—the next thing I knew I was reading the Epilogue. Seriously, it’s that brilliant. She begins by questioning if it is possible for a poet to “Make it Beautiful” in our less-than-perfect world: “… how to scribble words about beauty / despite some fanatic’s fuse, / a child’s swollen belly, or bullets? / What does it mean to honour the Muse?” Poetry, art and artists past and present segue into a whole as she opines: “for those who create and guide / are never gone / but in their art and love / live on.”
In Part 2, ‘Beyond Knowing’, Ioannou strives to make it meaningful, asking: “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?” and mischievously demands: “Who would be a God?”: “Isn’t mere mortal fussing enough of a headache / —to dig from clean laundry two navy socks that match / and remember not to sprinkle the cactus / except every fifteenth day, / let alone halt wars, seed famines, / and recharge a global economy?” Immersing herself intuitively in the physical landscape, she demonstrates a wide range of interests—science, geology, even particle physics, unequivocally stating: “I do not believe in the Higgs Bosun”—concluding: “I believe in the ancient sages’ / music of the heavenly spheres / concentrating to a solid / in an immeasurable slowing of motion.”
‘Passing Seventy’, Part 3, makes it intensely personal. Sensitively and unsentimentally she addresses illness, death and whatever comes next: “… nothing can slow your step, nor halt / your soft dissolve into air // a shiver not quite caught in the eye / – yet there // as if in an atom’s whirling spaces / is fullness beyond prayer // and aching after your absence / we touch you everywhere.”
Susan Ioannou’s clear and concise poems delineate a deeply idiosyncratic odyssey and, as is true of all such intimate and transformative meanderings, Looking for Light gently and inextricably pulls you full circle into her self: “…then I am told that giving all to words / is worth the harm // and do not even mind / for underneath in-vain and must-not-do // is that catch-nail – love / words hang themselves upon.” Making it beautiful indeed.