Book Reviews

The Discipline of Undressing
K. Louise Vincent (Leaf Press) ISBN 978-0-9783879-0-7
Only Breath
Jami Sieber & Kim Rosen (Out Front Music)

In the midst of reading "The Discipline of Undressing” one morning, I realized that poetry is a consciousness event. It is a form of devotion, addressing, and in Gabriola Island poet K. Louise Vincent’s case, undressing.
As readers, we are welcomed as the beholders of Vincent’s themes of bewilderment and belonging. Her poems become moments of illumination like floating candles on a pond. Who is the son, the daughter, the lover in the poem? In that wondering, who do we remember and how does it make us feel? Really, that is the blessedness of a poem – that medicine of memory. A revelation, a conscious acknowledgement and then a letting go.
There is lots of noticing in Vincent’s poems, lots of seeing close up. "Ants perform dreamwork in peonies,” for instance, and "there is a vocation in watching.” One of my favourite poems in the collection, ‘Afterworld,’ begins with an epigraph from Rumi. It is full of colour – especially yellow – and then a multiplying moon with "a stream of oranges/falling and rising in the hands/of an invisible juggler.”
The book is lovely to hold in one’s hand, its poems surrounded by lots of space. In that spacious silence, the words illuminated are conscious and exquisite.
From the silence of words on a page, poems are given breath and music on "Only Breath,” a CD by Fairfax, California poet Kim Rosen and cellist Jami Sieber from Seattle. Sieber’s cello is a resonance that carries the words of beloved poets like a buoyant river. The dialogue created is spontaneous and heaven-sent.
Pablo Neruda’s ‘Poetry’ is just the right beginning for the CD, as it’s about how he discovered poetry, or rather, how poetry found him. Rosen has memorized the poem by heart thereby embodying the words of the Chilean poet. Sieber’s electric and acoustic cellos, as well as her own vocals, offer multiple layers of memory.
Along with her own poetry, Rosen recites the poems of Rumi, Rainer Maria Rilke, Stanley Kunitz, Marina Tsvetaeva and Derek Walcott. There is so much richness with the words spoken as a sacred practice. Musicians and singers, along with Sieber, create an alchemical blend of world beat rhythms. You will be lifted to sing and dance and be reminded to listen, to breathe, and to love.

Mary Ann Moore is a poet, writer and creativity facilitator living in Nanaimo.