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Showing posts from January, 2016

What Feeds Us: a review of Harriot West's 'Into the Light'

Harriot West, Into the Light, Mountains & Rivers Press, 2014, 48 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/2, perfect bound, $15.00

Let’s start with ‘scrapple, cornmeal mush with … sausage’, follow it with Thanksgiving turkey with ‘cranberry jelly and the sweetness of honey-flavoured yams’, then ‘raspberries … with clotted cream’. Except these dishes fail in their intrinsic capability to feed or nourish, laced as they are with conflict, anger and grief in the early haibun of Harriot West’s collection Into the Light.
The ‘scrapple’ becomes a battleground for a child’s love in 'Empty Spaces'. The turkey cannot mask an almost unbearable despair in ‘Abundant Blessings’. The raspberries, ‘the seeds cracking’, foreshadow the death of a grandmother and the failure of adults in a child’s life to explain and comfort (‘The Day Grandma Died’).
Into the Light is divided into three sections. The 17 haibun in ‘Sepia Shadows’ explore, in a compressed chronology, the narrator’s childhood, youth and adulthood up t…