Looking for Light
by Susan Ioannou
About the Book
From the Back Cover
Quotes from Book Reviews
More Detailed Reader Comments
About the Book
In a deeply troubled world, how is it possible to "Make it beautiful," as her Muse demands, Susan Ioannou asks in her fourth major poetry collection, Looking for Light. In the attempt, she follows the artistic imagination’s travels as far as Italy’s Bagni di Lucca, fantasizes about a poetry class romance, feels the intimacy between sculptor and subject, and swirls with a dancer’s passion. Part 2, Beyond Knowing, turns inward, blending spirituality, nature, and the paradoxes of particle physics to puzzle about the experience of God and the mysterious forces that brought us into being and invisibly sustain us, body and soul. Part 3, Passing Seventy, explores transformation, both physical and emotional, as the final years of life approach. Not only do ageing’s challenges of failing health and family loss reshape our familiar perspective on the present, they drive a larger vision of what may come after the inevitable happens.From the Back Cover
"There is more true poetry, more beauty, knowledge and song—direct transmissions from Susan's Muse—in each of the three sections of this collection than in 99% of the entire typical Canuck poetry offering. Miss devouring this book, and you'll miss the heart, soul and wisdom of one of Canada's best and wisest poets."Quotes from Book Reviews
– Chris Faiers, poet, publisher, editor, first recipient of the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Medal
"In this engaging third period work, poet and career editor Susan Ioannou relentlessly questions the adequacy of words to capture the gleanings of her keen-eyed, open-eared travels through space and time—even words that hang themselves upon the catch-nail of love."
– Ron Charach, author of cabana the big and Prosopagnosia
More Detailed Reader Comments
- "The fruitful exercise of a poet who writes about the impossibility of creation" – Anne Burke, News from the Feminist Caucus (The League of Canadian Poets), August 31, 2016.
- "Recent and recommended...A fine (capstone) collection" – Brenda Keble, paperplates, Vol. 8, No. 4, 2016.
- "People’s Poet Chris Faiers writes in praise of Susan Ioannou in his introduction to her book of poems Looking for Light, calling her one of Canada’s “best and wisest poets”. I have no quarrel with that description and there is much evidence within the covers of this particular volume to demonstrate what Faiers cites as “true poetry … beauty, knowledge, and song....
"Reading this book involves being invited on something of a journey, a quest for meaning. In the opening section of the book we travel to distant places, sometimes in the company of great poets like Shelley, revivified in landscape and architecture. In Beyond Knowing, section two of this collection, we are invited to question the meaning of existence, what Ioannou refers to as “—my uneasy wonder?” In Passing Seventy, part three, we look into the aging self and wonder “… is it / our own dreaming / undreaming we exist?” And the grail at the end of this romance might be language itself, as she writes in her coda, “...I have chosen words to be my light / and darkness too”. This journey is well worth taking. We pose these questions in service of deep need. And although we may not receive an answer, still we go looking for the light. And along the way we shine the light of language and see further into the darkness than might otherwise not be possible." – John B. Lee, Verse Afire, January to April, 2017.
- "Susan Ioannou is a highly-skilled crafter of words. Looking for Light does not betray her deft sense of language or fail to offer astute observations of subjects that are both familiar and frightening. In some sections she is focused on grieving, in others she articulates her understanding of basic physics in a way that will leave some of us shaking with reluctance to ever try topping her explanations. She has a grasp of the element of time that stretches beyond her own stand on this earth and her poetry manages both to enlighten and delight us.
Ioannou has a unique but unassuming way of phrasing images. For instance, she speaks of bodies “rag-piled on a sidewalk grate” (Make It Beautiful), or a driver in the rain “star[ing] through sheeted panes” (Bagni di Lucca), or a sharp cliff is “bristled steep with black pines” (Night Train Through Matapedia). Her images are clear and sharp, drawing the reader so close they can imagine her breath as she reads the words aloud, helped by her line breaks to see the writer’s intent as she lays type to page....
Looking for Light is a well-crafted collection of poems. Ioannou operates with a true poet’s hand...
'then I am told that giving all to words / is worth the harm' (The Choice)'" – Sharon Berg, Sharon Berg Review Site, January 9, 2017.
For additional responses to Looking for Light, click Recent PraiseThree Poems
Like so many, one day waking
I ponder Who and Why
undreamed us here,
grounded earth, the stars,
breathed open space, at once
so microscopic, so immense
no eye, no brain can fathom.
Who? Or is it only
what longing cannot bear:
an infinite complexity
spiralling through eons
its soulless imperfection.
Where is the radiant figure
I crave, to comprehend,
to shiver to accept
the brutal amid beauty,
love in spite of evil,
—my uneasy wonder?
It isn’t a whale
gulping you whole into its darkness,
but each precise piranha
ripping its toothful of flesh from your bones
that reddens the current
and shocks you upright at 3:00 a.m.
in a bed a-shiver with nerves.
It isn’t the shrapnel of worry
or disappointments or fright
razoring into your chest,
but the force field of day after day
magnetizing their mini-weights
until they thonk together and strike
—that massive wrecking ball:
a stroke, a breakdown, a heart attack.
It isn’t the first, or the only
—why among thousands in the mirror’s
rear-view, one particular blur
happens to hurtle you into the smash-up.
It is—remember?—that tiny bug you brushed off
that creeps out from the shadows and bristles
the giant-millipede nightmare.
High on a shop shelf strewn with old figurines,
side by side, two little white rabbits
whispered to me, Pick us.
And even though formed from roughened plaster,
each rounded body, grounded on big paws
curled comfortably into my palm.
How soothing to slide my thumb
around plumped cheeks
long curved ears,
one pair tilted, as if to listen,
the other flopped back, cavalier.
Four small pink eyes bored into mine,
as if both crinkled noses had scented
a succulent lettuce leaf.
And so I carried them home.
to crouch on the table and watch,
still and silent, where I write and read.
across the window’s full moon
one leapt toward me in a dream.
Tall as my knee,
with glistening fur,
it hopped at my heels from room to room.
Eyes, pink crystals, up it stared
as if to be held and spoken to.
Snuggling into my arms,
its now-silk whiteness stroked me calm.
All the while, its eyes kept burrowing
deeper. I couldn’t get free.
In sunlight, on my writing table,
still the plaster pair study me:
Do it. Is that what they say?
Rabbits are symbols of fertility.
—Not only in flesh,
but also in words?
To OrderLooking for Light, by Susan Ioannou (Brighton, Ontario: Hidden Brook Press, 2016), 81 pages, paper ISBN 978-1-927725-34-4, $19.95.
Available through amazon.ca, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indigo, and other online bookstores Paperback autographed by the author: online by credit card using PayPal Institutions
In Canada, through Hidden Brook Distribution In the United States, through Ingram.
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Updated January 2017