Where the Light Waits

  A Look Inside

  Where The Light Waits

   by Susan Ioannou

  originally published by Ekstasis Editions

About the Book
Table of Contents
Critics Praise
Order Information

About the Book

In Where the Light Waits, Susan Ioannou pulls together light and shadows, stray thoughts and unravelled feelings, past and future, and listens for the silences resonating between, for that hint of asymmetrical order. Her poems begin with a series of meditations on what makes a life civilized, then range through the dark side of wars in Iraq, the Balkans, and Rwanda. The second half of the book explores either end of the human span, from the thoughtfulness and coming to terms that ageing inspires, to a celebration of perpetual renewal in poems about the young. Throughout, she grapples with large issues: What gives life meaning? How does the spirit survive evil? Can permanence and flux be reconciled? As accurate to violets and a cedar fence post as to oil spills, steel beams, and the raw edge of pain, ultimately her writing is optimistic, reaching through the personal “I” toward a compassionate universality.

Table of Contents
Part I - A Civilized Life
9   Appointment Above Florence:
     Visiting Sir Harold Acton [Villa La Pietra, Italy]
12 A Civilized Life
17 In Middle Age
19 Lake View
20 Healing
22 Tempora

Part II - Unsteady Ground
25 Don Valley Day
26 For The Lost Birds
27 Lizardry
28 Past Sunset
29 Four Poems On War
   1. Another War
   2. At War: Winter Night, Parliament Hill
   3. Watching CNN: Iraq, The Aftermath
   4. Another Day
33 Balkan Winter
34 Srebrenica Suite
   3. The Abandoned Hospital
   4. Survivor
   5. After The Raid
   6. Torturer
37 Can We Imagine . . .[Rwanda]
39 North Of Capricorn
40 Global Sunrise
41 One Wide sky
42 Looking
43 What Matters?
44 Microcosmic
46 Starquaked
47 Fractals
48 Hopscotch

Part III - A Blue Shadow
51 Nightfall
52 Glimpsing The Dark
53 Cardiac Hunted
54 Signs Of Aging
55 Echo
56 Cage
57 Cleaning Out Old Letters
58 The Comfort Of Elders
59 Up
60 Mother’s Day
61 Inheritances
62 February 1985
63 Last Days
64 Gone
66 Wire
67 New Year’s Wish
68 Fragment
69 Midnight Hall
70 Good Thoughts
71 Daybreak
72 Three Metaphors For Fear
74 Into Another Sky

Part IV - Watching The Young
77 Queen Of The Road
79 Life Cycle
80 Watching The Young
81 Fragile
82 On A Son Heading Toward Algonquin
83 After Winning The Basketball Game
84 Night Highway, Freezing Rain
86 Winter Morning Thoughts
87 Subtexts
88 Fade Out
89 Golf Lesson
90 Visiting Plum Creek Farm
91 Family Coming Home
92 First Weekend Without Grown Children
93 Shall I, Daughter?
94 The Third Cup
95 For A Young Poet
96 In Gratitude

Critics Praise

“In a time when young poets are rushing into print, mad to publish books and madder for celebrity, it is refreshing to read a poet who quietly has taken the time to learn her craft and allow it to mesh with experience. . . . Those who are familiar with seeing Ioannou’s poetry in the periodicals and anthologies over the past two decades might be surprised to learn that this is only her fourth book. Her work has appeared in most of the major literaries in this time. Small wonder, then, that only a few years after publishing Clarity Between Clouds, she can follow with another superb collection. What we are seeing is the quiet unfolding of a substantial and excellent body of work by someone who belongs in the company of our most skillful poets." (Ted Plantos, People’s Poetry Letter)

“Much like the short stories of Alice Munro in which the ordinary is made extraordinary, Susan Ioannou’s poetry elevates simple nature and everyday experience into the realm of the wondrous and sublime. Commonplace sights and events trigger inquiries into the spiritual, and tiny miracles are everywhere, waiting to be discovered. . . . In her poems there is no separation between inner and outer landscapes, only a dynamic interaction, an intertwining. By immersing ourselves in the nature that surrounds us, we plumb our own inner depths, journeying further into ourselves. . . . Through elegant imagery, Ioannou paints a world in which each small thing, each moment is whole and beautiful, to be cherished for its simplicity, yet exists also as a miracle of complexity, a piece of a larger intricate puzzle. The ability to express this paradox is the hallmark of Ioannou’s immense talent.” (Nicole Hesse, University College Alumni Magazine)

“[Susan Ioannou] tackles subjects as diverse as empty-nest syndrome, without children to ‘flop themselves down, / wrestle the sofa, jump shoot a window’, the Quebec Referendum, ‘Evergreen, still our roots hold / as firm on rock as deep in a lilied field’), and the Persian Gulf War (‘What fruit springs / from a severed hand?’). These poems link us to the big picture in a way CNN wishes it could. . . . Ioannou has a firm sense of her place in the world, and in a series of science-themed poems, she casts her wondering eye on larger (or smaller ) universes. Boldly combining fact and lyricism, [she] diminishes the imagined distance between art and science:

there is no chaos, only
an order unremembered,
our vision grained from staring
up too close.

It’s a bit of a high-wire act to balance such personal and global visions, but Ioannou brings a thoughtful confidence to her fourth book of poems, and magnifies the triumph of a life well lived in a rapidly changing world.” (Tanis MacDonald, Scenes)

Three Poems

Global Sunrise

Along the dark horizon
like light’s new-rising rim
what a wonder: a silver wire
wraps around the globe.

A million voices are humming.
Together can they transform
blood, greed, and guns
into a many-harmonied song?

How easily splashing from night
every morning new-born
links yellow, black, and white
laughing into a ring

while reddened
the world’s full-grown
raise fists
and squeeze triggers.


What if
the universe is
a single spangle of light

and whenever a first breath
flares out of darkness
time and space unfold

like a giant bloom by Georgia O’Keeffe,
new life a microscopic
vein in a yellow petal?

Or fragrance spills inside out
a cosmos of sun-and-star pollen
floating across the roof of a chlorophyll cell?

Would it matter
that God could puff up
time like opal balloons,

bulging to eons
high on a transparent string,

or puncture infinity
into a mirror

Who are we to explain
that man is the measure,
not mites or nebulae,

that air is the mother element,
not water, not silver,
not fire?

What if
the whole wonder
does not revolve on our eye

blinks us awake
only when a root groans

or an asteroid
winds up night’s clock,
tail showering pollen into new worlds?

Shall I, Daughter
(for Polly)

Shall I bring you a waterfall, daughter,
to flash along fair hair
or a valley to lie down in
green and curved as your flowing?

Shall I raise you higher than apples
to let your ripe thoughts tumble
red under light feet running
barefoot boys through the grass?

Shall I sing you a new moon rising
and let blue wishes deepen
or fold your arm into mine
to walk us toward tomorrow?

Can I wave at the foot of the mountain
where you turn, before you climb?
Will I sigh once your footsteps silence,
and wait for grandmothering?

Shall I bring her a waterfall, daughter,
to flash along silk hair
or a valley to lie down in
green and far as your own?

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Copyright 2010 Susan Ioannou

Order Information

Where the Light Waits, by Susan Ioannou
Victoria, B.C.: Ekstasis Editions, 1996, 96 pages, ISBN 978-0-921215-96-7.
  • Paperback
  • Autographed Paperback, contact susanio[at]sympatico.ca.

  • Selected Poems 2011, by Susan Ioannou
    (chosen from the paperback edition), Wordwrights Canada, 2011, 81 pages, ISBN 978-0-920835-43-2.
  • eBook

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