CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Allison, Gay.

Toronto, Williams-Wallace Publishers, 1987. 73pp. paper, $8.95, ISBN 0-88795-060-4.

Reviewed by Pat Bolger

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November

In "About My Birth," Gay Allison deals with women's interconnectedness: "Unwinding what she knows / . . .This is what my mother said, knitting. . . ." The imagery of knitting and unravelling occurs frequently, along with references to braiding of hair: "women invented plaiting and weaving" and "women have been gathering together for centuries, / their braided lives ancestral memories. . . ."

Most readers will respond readily to Allison's feminist concerns, whether in the light-hearted "Letters for Betsy Never Written," which recalls harassing the local LCBO for not hiring women, or in the more serious "Story of Child Abuse" and "Domestic Violence." Pregnancy, birth and motherhood are celebrated, and there are tributes to her parents, friends and other poets. Allison writes that "change comes in the form of a woman / holding a raven with breasts. . .," an idea embodied in Lynne Fernie's cover art, a line drawing of a nude with a decidedly odd-looking raven.

The collection's primary appeal will be to women, including those of senior high school age (although some of them would probably shy away from the cover). Previous publication of some of these poems and broadcasting on CBC's "Anthology" will have established an interest in Allison's work among public library patrons, and this collection will be especially useful where her previous Life: Still (Williams-Wallace, 1981) was popular.

Pat Bolger, Renfrew Collegiate Institute, Renfrew, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works