Interruptions in Glass

2 June 2010

Interruptions in Glass
by Tracy Hamon
Published by Coteau Books
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$16.95 ISBN 978-1-55050-426-2

If there’s a theme in the stylistically-varied poems inside Regina writer Tracy Hamon’s second book, Interruptions in Glass, it might be that most of the pieces seem to ponder the question: “How do we lead a good life?” Smart woman that she is, Hamon doesn’t offer answers, but in disparate poems that follow trails of desire, loneliness, the seasons, and literary and mythic figures, she surreptitiously asks compelling questions while spelling out what it’s like to be a complex woman in a complex world.

There’s a zinger of a phrase in almost every poem. She writes that “sentences chauffeured along” (“A Phone Call from an Imaginary Friend”); of the “gradual\winch of swollen lids” (“How to Walk the Road to Nowhere”); of boats that “hip-check the dock” (“After the Storm”); and, in this highly body-aware collection, of an “autumn arm\driftwood shoulder” (“The Heart Takes a Plunge”).

The titles reflect the book’s sometimes somber tone, but Hamon juxtaposes these serious, reflective pieces with great dobs of humour, as demonstrated in “Something to do on your Birthday,” in which the narrator suggests placing an ad in the newspaper’s personals column; and in the three interspersed poems “In the Absence of Conversation I” (II and III). The second of these short poems begins “Eat a play” and the third suggests “Eat a snowman.” Ha!

Hamon’s been a fixture on Saskatchewan’s literary forefront for several years, with numerous publications and CBC radio broadcasts; awards including the City of Regina Award; and as founder of the Regina’s Vertigo Reading Series. The mother of two and Program Officer for the Saskatchewan Writers Guild recently completed an MA in English, and – if all this isn’t enough – she also works part-time as a barber\stylist. It’s not surprising, then, that images from this profession appear in her work. In “Why I’m Not a Lilac,” she views lilacs as “lavender coiffed buns bound by brown stick-\pins rapidly popping from bee-hived dos.” From the poem “Surrender”: “Let me explain. Your hair\holds unusual fascination\an insistent need to comb\myself in”. In “Things Lost in Hair,” she surprises with items like “a pink Barbie shoe” and “mother’s sewing scissors”.

Among the prose poems, columnar poems, couplets, and indented poems, one of my favourite moments is found in the tercets (three-lined stanzas) of “Some People Eat Dirt,” where a grandfather would “bring a jug -\A&W rootbeer, the brown-bottled gallon” from the drive-in where “the mugs outweighed the waitresses.” With the poet’s keen eye, Hamon sees what we’ve all seen – at least those of us who recall A&W drive-ins and those monstrous drinks – but she gives the image a twist. Her unique slant – or her interruption in the mirrored glass of memory – brought a smile to my face.

Finally, I love the little poem that makes itself with two of Hamon’s finest lines (from different poems): “Loneliness is an owl. Up all night” and “There is nothing to do when desire\is a virus.”

Interruptions in Glass is an engaging collection, any way you look at it.


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