When the Newfoundland-based Canadian poet Alison Pick read at the recent Sean Dunne Writers’ Festival, I was of the opinion that her work was a tad academic and now that I have her second collection, The Dream World, to hand, that opinion has been confirmed. So much of published poetry these days owes its genesis and support from academic institutes and universities of learning where language is filleted and dissected on some coroners stainless steel table with comparisons to dead Greeks, Chinese proverbs, oddball psychiatric gurus and occasional fairytales. Pick’s world has all these hallmarks over four sections labelled Alone In The Woods For The Rest Of The Winter, If Only A House Stood Just For Itself, Talking Or Not Talking and The Dream World.
In these sections we meet references to Heloise And Abelard, Grimm Fairytales, Chinese womens poetry during 43 centuries of Spiritual poetry by women, Simone Weil unstudied Latin, the Old Testament, Agustine, Carl Jung, The Metamorphoses Metamorphosis, Ovid, Nietzche, Hegel, Hythloday, Darwin, Empedocles and The Cosmos.
But there must be more than that to sustain a reader, a seeker of emotions and word sparkle. Yes, there’s lots of references to snow as you might expect but it is the casual sensuous that grabs you by the metaphoricals.
I will know the tips
Of your fingers
Softly on my inner thigh
Your back that bends
Over what’s open before it.
And again the poet reveals herself in a confusion of wanting:
Dating someone else
You held my hand in a cab
I want to go back
To that kind of wanting
And you not wanting me back.
The poems about looking for a house to start a life in are beautiful. Sellers needing to be gone. Whatever you ache for, this isn’t it. This could be a study, great house for kids, Real Estate Man, house of your dreams. We save our kisses in a safe that’s fat and pink. I wish I could tell you.
In the books title section in a poem Childhood, you are surprised by the simplicity of wonder – a closing line – Look up and marvel. Alison Pick marvels.