Monica Kidd's book of poetry, Handfuls of Bone, is beautiful. From the jacket cover, to the quality of the paper, to the font, to the illustrations, and to the actual poems. Beautiful. What a joy and pleasure it is to read a collection like this! It reminded me so much of fellow Albertan Thomas Wharton's book The Logogryph: A Bibliography of Imaginary Books.
I will be honest. Kidd's collection was a blissful moment of decadence. I even indulged in some cheese from my favourite cheese shop while reading these poems. These poems also are a beautiful memory of my vacation to St. John's. While in a fun little book store in St. Johns, Broken Books, I couldn't help but buy Monica Kidd's book. Not only was it beautiful, but she is also a prairie girl who moved to St. John's. It was the perfect combination! I will always think of the freeing and renewing time I spent in St. John's any time I pick up Kidd's book.
In a conversation with Shelagh Rogers (who just had a theatre named after her in Newfoundland where the annual Friends of Writers at Woody Point takes place) about her poetry, Monica Kidd talks about the story behind some of her poems. She also talks about the magical realism of Newfoundland. In her collection of poetry, Kidd's attention to detail is so clear. In the interview with Shelagh Rogers, she says that poetry allows her to get to the heart of the story or situation quickly. She does not let her words get in the way. How beautiful is that: Kidd does not want to get in the way of the story that she wants to tell, and so uses as few words as possible to bring the reader into a moment of time. Furhtermore, she explains to Rogers that poetry allows for details. She sees people as they are: she doesn't believe that humans fit into generalizations. This is so true when you consider a small town where everyone knows everyone and each individual is seen as unique. Sometimes in the city, this idea is lost and people become a blurred mass (and I can't help but think of Ezra Pound's poem "In a Station of the Metro"). Yet for Kidd, she realizes the importance of each individual. In her interview, she says that every person means something. I find that encouraging, especially considering that Kidd is now a family physician.
My favourite poems of her collection are near the end of the book. "2070 Miles" is one of my favourites:
2070 miles on a scooter
to place my hand
on this stone and that.
To feel for a pulse
and find one answering
faintly to my fingers.
History is whispered here.
2070 miles: a long white flag
surrendering to the wind. (Pg 64)
That is how I feel about my trip to Newfoundland. When my parents asked about my favourite part of my trip, it was precisely this: sitting on the cliff rocks and feeling the magic of the place. The history. The magic. The energy. The beauty.
Yet one of most beautiful and soul-wrenching poems is "Stills and swifts."
Stills and swifts
Water, black as forgetting, the river full
of tragedy--drowned logs, half boats.
The bottom writes its name
on the surface.
Take from the stream fishes and loaves
and give it your despair. Throw it to the
current and watch the path it carves.
Follow, though you are a thing of air.
Inside the maw, time stops.
Trust your lungs, though they burn,
and wait for the sun to pluck you
from your transgressions. (Pg 67)
All in all, the beauty of Kidd's poetry made me realize, by the end, that I wish I knew Kidd. I wish that I was able to have a conversation with Monica Kidd and hear her talk about these people and places that she writes about and to learn her story. What a fascinating woman!
"I also consider myself a bit of a landscape writer. Without really meaning to, I tend to anthropomorphize landscape; it’s how I explain my ample emotional response to earth, water and sky." (Monica Kidd, in an interview)
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31)