Part of what is satisfying about Edge: Essays, Reviews, Interviews, perhaps particularly for writers, and any lover of literature, is Mary Dalton’s reflection upon herself, on her own process, what a writer or poet is. In this reflection there is a continual return to a sense of occupying an edge, whereby at one point she says, “Ambivalence is the best I can do.”
Interestingly, this means for her practicing a detachment that is wary of generalizations (like, “marginalized Newfoundland poet”), and is aware of both sides of whatever theme is in the offing, facilitating depth of craft and the smile of humour within the music of words.
This sense of music, the rhythms, the ring of words well strung, recurs throughout. It is evoked by reference to her musical parents and is precisely elucidated in her various allusions to composition as musical aesthetic. That aesthetic is also a vision of composition that is free to enrich itself with whatever spoils can be had (“I think I’m a buccaneer or a pirate…”).
Within this teasing out of the writer’s craft, there is a thorough exploration of Newfoundland’s spoken culture, its suppression and renewal by varied figures, including herself, while ruminating on the edge between margin and centre.
Edge: Essays, Reviews, Interviews
by Mary Dalton
$19.95, paperback, 200 pp.
Palimpsest Press, 2015