Sylvia Hamilton Reviews a Welcome Undercurrent of Hope from Sue Goyette
Solstice 2020: An archive
In an interview, poet Hanif Abdurraqib commented on the history of poetics:
“Before they were anything else, poets were essentially people who delivered the news. People relied on them to archive the day.”
Halifax Poet Laureate Sue Goyette’s Solstice 2020 an archiveperforms this essential service for readers. During the mornings of the first 21 days of December, she wrote a poem, between 18-21 lines. That afternoon it appeared in Halifax’s The Coast.
Now published by Gaspereau Press, these diurnal lyrics, journey us to the Winter Solstice, the day with the least amount of light. Yet still a day with hope.
The early poems signal themes that recur throughout the month: light and darkness; mourning and the work of remembering; mystery and the unknown; time and laughter. And on December 11, what the speaker misses most: “I miss seeing women irl. Women blazing down sidewalks, their thinking sparkplugging wild chandeliers into the atmosphere rousing anyone in their vicinity with their leftover energy.”
In these meditations, readers encounter Joni Mitchell, French resistance poet René Char, three abandoned roosters, Halifax’s hidden waterways and the Oval. Like the Atlantic Ocean, there is always movement. Goyette’s nimble facility with language and her knack for seeing the unusual in the usual is a delight:
“Consider the pinecone. Imbricated in design much like fish scales. Think bract scales beneath seed scales.” Or, “the coffee urn in the corner is an ancient robot spitting its orange light of being ready.”
This is no pessimist’s archive. A welcome undercurrent of hope threads through. “When we share the shine we are even brighter,” the speaker says. “That we’ll sit around. In the future. To share our adventures of exhaustion. “Nearing the Solstice, Goyette delivers the closing news: the speaker longs for a world that recognizes a duty of care for the young and for each other. “This is why we’re here. Together and apart.”