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Judith Fitzgerald.

Windsor (ON), Black Moss Press, c1984.
64pp, paper, $6.95.
ISBN 0-88753-1164.

Grades 12 and up.

Reviewed by Donalee Moulton-Barrett.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November

If you are not familiar with Edith Piaf, the woman, the singer, the mother, the lover, the superstar, you will be after reading Judith Fitzgerald's tribute, Beneath the Skin of Paradise: The Piaf. Fitzgerald begins her poetic journey into Piaf's life history where Piaf herself did, in the dirty, harsh, rich, festive streets of France. From there we travel smoothly, more often tremulously, through Piaf's childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, until her death by suicide at age forty-eight.

But Fitzgerald does not merely provide a chronological biography of Edith Piaf, she recreates the essence of the woman. I am staring/into space/into space/as if it holds/some sort/of promise/ for me/as if/I've got something/like hope/ in my eyes.

The weakest part of this book poem, with its 111 sections, is the nine songs penned by Fitzgerald. They fail to work convincingly primarily because they do not have the rhythmic pacing of words set to music. They are, however, only a minor flaw in an otherwise compelling work.

Piaf's entire life was a struggle. From her birth on a cop's cape underneath a lamppost in rue de Belleville to her continuous, often self-destructive, search for love (not just lovers), and finally to her death, Piaf struggled. Judith Fitzgerald, one of the finest poets writing in Canada today, has relived that struggle in Beneath the Skin of Paradise: The Piaf.

Donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, NS.
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