Thistledown Press / 24 August 2011

Paperwhite by Catherine Mamo Published by Thistledown Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $15.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-60-7 One cannot judge a book by its cover, it’s true, but on occasion a cover does manage to reflect the essence of a book. Paperwhite, a new collection of poetry by Catherine Mamo, of Peachland, BC, is a case in point. It’s tastefully fronted by a photograph of an unusual fruit or nut set on a block of wood. This spotlit “scene” is rendered before a rich brown background. The cover’s subdued and beautiful, as are the poems within it. It suggests that the natural world is important for this writer, and it leaves much room for imagining. Numerous contrasts are evident in these “confessional” poems; the poet examines her ordered, domestic life (as a wife and mother), and juxtaposes her “picket fence” lifestyle against nature’s attractive abandon. In “April II,” she writes” “why do children\keep arriving\why do they swing and laugh\why does the grass\bend its one colour so”. The poet dreams of drinking at a river “like bear or deer\tongue lapping\at the very origins,” (“Thirst”). In “I am a Lazy Wife,” she writes “I want\to enter a fish’s gullet\and swim there,\tiny as that…