by Micheline Maylor
by Jane Munro
Brick Books (2020)
Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, claimed Ginsberg, the skin is holy, the soul is holy. In Glass Float, Jane Munro explores the interiority and exteriority of the holy. What is holy when a woman finds herself widowed and suddenly solely responsible for herself: “directly responsible, that is. It’s a galaxy full of dark energy, matter: within you, what’s never been lit?” What contracts and what expands in grief and where does one go when there is no escape from the self?
Munro, through intermittent sparse and dense passages, contemplates eastern philosophy through her yoga journey, and plays with perceptive realities. Anyone with any thin familiarity with these philosophies will find footing. The poetics themselves pose a sort of yin-yang contrast with elegant and solid works suited for Japanese imagism, speckled with denser prosaic mini-essays in paragraph form. The style itself seems to play with the breath of lines, almost mimicking the inhale/exhale of meditation. In this, the authors voice is clear and intimate.
Glass Float is an ocean of insight bombs. Durga, for example, contemplates the wild goddess Kali as a necessity, paralleled to fire, the complexity of destruction, and the passage of time that ends suffering. Deities are personified and personalized. They come as animal visitations too. Paradox is a rule. Ideas of wildness and civilization are tempered with destruction as necessary to kindness. We see which of the pantheon comes as friend and foe to Munro’s world. What could be an animal omen, could also be the donkey of work asking for more healing. Many bodies become one. “We were within the dim reaches of an ancient body.” All is shifty and somehow, light. Giving.
This book of poems is for those of us who love eastern philosophy, and for those of us craving the intimate voice of a wise author capable of the holy breath of poetry.
Micheline Maylor is the co-founder of the Freefall Literary Society of Calgary and the Editor-in-Chief of Freefall Magazine. She was the poetry acquisitions editor for Frontenac House Press from 2013-2018.