Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Sound The Sun Makes - Leanne McIntosh

Today's book of poetry:  The Sound The Sun Makes.  Leanne McIntosh.  Oolichan Poetry.  Lantzville, British Columbia.  2003.

There is an enchanting familiarity to The Sound The Sun Makes.  These poems feel robust, strong and confident.  That's no easy accomplishment with your first book.

The Bedroom

where I stepped into a world of chenille and chiffon,
a green canvas blind pulled down,
where a blue cotton nightgown
draped the back of a wooden chair;
tortoise shell combs, hairpins
cluttered the polished vanity and a photo
of my infant aunt in her coffin
hung on the wall at the end of the bed—
where I cautiously fingered satin panties and lacy slips,
where I hooked a black brassiere around my pinafore,
padded the cups with silk stockings,
felt the unsure curves.  In this room
where my mother rouged her lips with her little finger
before a man, whose name I can't remember,
came to visit.


Previously in this blog I took a look at Leanne McIntosh's most recent book, Dark Matter, which was written with the help of Jack Sproule and published by Leaf Press in the spring of this year.

Both books mine the solid soil of narrative poetry and although The Sound The Sun Makes is a first book, McIntosh sets them up and knocks them down like they were ducks in a small pond.


She rolls a circle of pastry.
He sits beside her peeling an apple in one
long curl as she taught him.

The room smells of cinnamon and sugar
the talc from her evening bath.
He slices the apple into a pan

she covers it with a thin floury skin
flutes the edges with thumb and forefinger.
He carves a line with the tip of his knife

and the soft crust splits.  This is the way
they made me. Warm and scented
hands on his shoulders, she opens

her robe as far as he needs
until the planet tips and tumbles
from the bodice of the Milky Way.


Patrick Lane, High Priest of Canadian Letters had this to say about McIntosh's The Sound The Sun Makes:

     "These poems reach out and find the deeper meanings we
     always knew were there but needed her to remind us of.
     I love her quiet eroticism, the understated lyrical lines, and
     the delicate austerity of her poems.  There is a full life
     here, a kind of gift only the good poets can bless us with."

And of course, he is right.  If I could write like Lane I'd have said the same thing.

Humanitarian War

A woman wraps her husband in a blanket—
the edge of the cloth stitched in gold

silk thread fine as hair.
Embroidered blue horses prance

unfenced across a carmine field.

Open mouthed blackbirds bleed into the sun.
After a night of bombing

a woman wraps her dead husband in the blanket
they shared on their wedding night—

she leaves him at the side of the road.


Leanne McIntosh examines death and sorrow, joy and light.  It is all in here in these short sharp poems. Each of these poems is constructed like a heavyweight punch, while all the time McIntosh bops around, slips and moves like a fly-weight.  Constant motion, no idea of where the next strike is coming from.

Although published a full ten years ago The Sound The Sun Makes was new to me and fresh as the day it was printed.

Note:  As far as possible I attempt to write about books in the order they arrive from publishers.  I have also tried to create a rotation so that every publisher who sends poetry receives the same courtesy.  I will attempt to write about the most recent releases first, but am happy to read and write about books that come from back catalogues.  If you have any questions or comments please forward them to:

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