Monica Kidd,
(Gaspereau Press, 2007)

This first book of poems from Monica Kidd introduces a strong new voice, one we should hear a lot from in the future.

Kidd, a former seabird biologist who is currently a medical student in Canada, has the objective eye of the scientist. She sees things clearly, without judgment, and has the ability to see inside the surfaces, the way a microscope does. She has the skill to capture what she sees on paper.

Her images are sharp and precise. Consider these lines from "Dyslexia":

The lazy Chicago River rolls the color of stone
as springs first sun slides down the
castles of progress. In the rush of
five o'clock refugees: one with sore feet,
another terrified by voices,
their baggage critical and not so.

The first few lines set the scene, rendering it vividly and accurately.

It is so precise and skillful you hardly notice the metaphorical qualities of the phrase "castles of progress." Only when she describes the five o'clock refugees do you begin to see what lies beneath the surface described by the opening images. It's a fine piece of work, the best type: work whose skill and craftsmanship is carefully hidden so it does not call attention to itself.

Kidd's book is divided into sections, each having its own theme and major area of concern. Although all are interesting, I was most drawn to the second, Found, which consists of poems written about the images on a set of old photographs the author picked up at a garage sale. Without knowing the people in the pictures, she writes their stories; each of the poems is accompanied by the photo that inspired it.

In all, Actualities is a fine piece of work, one that both promises fine stuff to come in the future and delivers on that promise.

One note: Gaspereau Press issues the best-looking books I've come across in a long time. They are fine examples of the bookmaker's art. Each volume contains a cover done in letter-press on fine paper, so the book feels good in your hand. Beautifully designed, the books are printed on fine paper that, instead of the perfect binding of most paperbacks, is sewn in signatures for durability and ease of reading. The typefaces complement the poems perfectly.

Gaspereau Press gives their poets the presentation they deserve. Every collector of fine examples of the printing art should own these books.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

22 December 2007

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