An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
translated by Sandra Chiancone
Black Ink Books
2548 5th Avenue West
BC V6K 1T1
ISBN 0 9731725 9 2

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This page last updated: 10th December 2007.

IN LOVE'S SHADOW is a short bilingual collection by Canadian poet Jay Black with translation into French by Sandra Chiancone. As the title suggests the poetry here is dark love poetry, being quite gothic in parts, as in this extract from WILDWOOD DARK:

	Thus with insatiate thirst we supped
	from one another's gaping cuts,
	then kissed with lips that dripped
	our bittersweet commingled blood.
This is either to your taste or it isn't. Elsewhere though, the poetry is quietly beautiful and sets love firmly within the natural environment as in GENEVIEVE:
	You are fallen yellow leaves
	carried on quiet streams of tears

	You are an evening breeze
	whispering disconsolate dreams.

	You are the ebbing ocean
	washing over a naked beach
This is lovely melancholy poetry that moves along at a gentle rhythm. A similar mood is found in NIGHTSONG:
	.... your dreams skirt my ears
	as telepathic whispers, pensive hints,
	and breathy restless secrets.
NOCTURNE is full of allusions to plants, and read in conjunction with the NOTES ON NOCTURNE it becomes a fascinating insight into the power and imagery plants once possessed in people's minds. The lines below for example:
	Wild ivy coils tightly round
	the cold, high-paled fence
become more revealing on finding out that wild ivy in the Indo-European folklore tradition represents attachment and fidelity.

Some readers may find the language sometimes overly archaic or obscure, with the use of words such as 'presaged' or 'tenebrous' but such language fits the style and mood of the writing. The French translations seem fairly faithful to the original, though sometimes the different structure of the languages means that words fall differently in the translation compared to the original. It is a comment on the languages too, rather than on the poets' skills, to say that sometimes these poems sound more beautiful in French. It is important, I think, that in bilingual cultures, such as Canada where this book is published, books are available in bilingual versions, so that both languages can be read and appreciated together and valued equally.

reviewer: Juliet Wilson.