Supplying Salt and Light by Lorna Goodison


Jim Hannan reviews Lorna Goodison’s Supplying Salt and Light for World Literature Today. Here is an excerpt, with a link to the full review below.

Lorna Goodison, Supplying Salt and Light

Toronto. McClelland & Stewart. 2013.

At their best, Lorna Goodison’s poems observe the unsavory in history and society even as they guide us firmly toward sources of redemption. With compassion and empathy, Goodison writes about human failure and triumph in large and small measures. “You’re perplexed / as this postcolonial scholar unearths plot / after heinous imperial plot buried behind // our botanical gardens. . . . // [We] lay / down ourselves careless in beds of canna / lilies . . . // human beings come in order to draw strength / for the week from our own Hope Gardens.”

In poems that range from Spain and Portugal to the Caribbean and evoke El Greco, Columbus, Paul Robeson, and Charlie Chaplin, Goodison renders historical idioms in deeply personal fashion. “All I desired / was a quiet life grafting poems onto roses / singing slow at home near blue mountains. / What am I searching for outside this known / world, why am I a followfashion Columbus / gone off the map.” As always in her poetry, Goodison writes with rich appreciation for the material, tactile, sensory world around us. “I acknowledged El Grec’s broad brush plains, / ochre and green the rolling dry brush hills, / the old olive trees, the long light glancing off / storied buildings within which highly skilled / craftsmen still discipline hot steel into swords.”

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