The poems in Dark Water Songs begin on the margins of islands and ancestors, and fan out, probing love, loss and life's dilemmas. They expand and deepen the poetic exploration which began with my earlier collections, mining the reciprocal spaces enabled by the hyphen between Jamaican and Canadian, exploring silences, the weight of memory, and a sense of the sacred. The collection contributes to the body of work by contemporary Canadian writers of Caribbean origin. The perspective is that of a poet/educator and former nun — a writer who negotiates the world through the lens of islands and continents, landscapes and seas.
About the author
Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes, is a Jamaican-Canadian, poet/educator and former nun. A Fellow at Scotland's Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers in Fall 2009, her literary publications include the collections: Travelling Light (2006), long-listed for the 2007 ReLit Poetry Award, and The Fires of Naming (2001). Her poetry appears in the anthologies: Calling Cards: New Poetry from Caribbean/Canadian Women (2005); Garden Variety, An Anthology of Flower Poems (2007); and Resonance: Poetry and Art (2008), and in journals such as Quills, The Toronto Quarterly, Arc, and Lichen. She has lived in Toronto since her arrival in 1969.
"The poems in Dark Water Songs touch on the political, the natural, the concrete, and the abstract. From the streets of Toronto to tropical islands, "From Perth to Edinburgh by Rail" (21) Soutar-Hynes takes us through urban and rural landscapes following the "crimson certainty" (61) of her heart's inclinations.... 'The Weight of Storms' (40) beautifully depicts the frozen existence of deep winter in Ontario: "No birds at the feeder / no squirrels foraging / through lilacs frozen antlers." The poet uses this environment as a metaphor for the tone set by argument between intimates. "We play our separate / hands from separate rooms--/ lost solitudes--awaiting ploughs / to pry us free." These snippets appear throughout the book, scattered between abstract meditations like "Perhaps" (52) and observations of the natural and constructed world.... As I read Dark Water Songs, I was increasingly aware of the poet's consciousness, or the "brisk salt of / [her] waking thought" (31) and the effect left me curious about her, her work, and her life." --ROOM MAGAZINE "Dark Water Songs is a startlingly good new collection. The overall sense is one of colour, landscape and texture; of the nuances of nature and man's emotion as something echoing and fleeting, blundering, humanly aching to be one but made clumsy by the mind, by knowledge, by the self-consciousness that condemns us to recognize beauty and synchronicity without ever being able to be more than an uncomfortable part of it all. It is that humanness of difference that makes this collection a wonder."--Rachel Manley, author of Drumblair: Memories of a Jamaican Childhood, Slipstream: A Daughter Remembers and Horses in Her Hair: A Granddaughter's Story"Soutar-Hynes's poems are sensuously expressive and conceptual all at once. The texts are shaped like sculptures: with indents and caesuras creating "negative space" and added visual rhythm -- layouts consonant with her often vividly pictorial imagery. Underpinning these aesthetic qualities is the sensibility of one who is widely read, intellectually sophisticated, and tuned in to contemporary ideas. Another distinctive Soutar-Hynes attribute is her ability to convey a sense of place, whether close to home, recalled from early life, or travelled to over the oceans. Such local, regional and global scope makes her a post-national as well as a multicultural and postmodernist writer of real distinction."--Allan Briesmaster, author of Confluences and Against the Flight of Spring