Wildness Rushing In

8 April 2015

Wildness Rushing In
by dee Hobsbawn-Smith
Published by Hagios Press
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$17.95 ISBN 978-192671025-9

Wildness Rushing In is the first book of poetry by Saskatchewan writer dee Hobsbawn-Smith, and, as with many inaugural books, she mines wide-ranging personal experience-from childhood to the present-for a collection that reveals her universe of passions, sorrows, and the reflective, in-between moments best expressed in poetry.

Among what impressed was Hobsbawn-Smith’s range of form (she incorporates prose poems, the villanelle, couplets, quatrains, a glosa, and less formally structured pieces), and her liberal use of personification. Snowflakes “swathe\the metal braces and rusty frames\of the tools in the farm field,” morning fog is described as “smoothing\the landscape,” and sun “rubs the ashes\from the forehead of the sky.” In her poem “The great divide,” a remembrance of a drive home with sleeping sons in the back seat of the car, she writes “a windshield full of stars\weeps for what can’t be said.” So lovely, and weighted with meaning.

One way a writer adds music to poems is by using alliteration, and we see-and hear-numerous examples of this kind of music in this book. In a touching poem for a brother who died too soon, the Saskatoon-area poet writes: “We lived upon an uneasy tide,\our father’s temper an ocean trough\we rose from repeatedly to ride”.

Anyone who can recall an old, small-town garage will appreciate the poem “Bennett’s garage,” in which you can almost smell the dust on the shelves, where there is an “abandoned typewriter ribbon uncoiling\like [a] snake”. Also on display: “A colour print, Victory Bond girls,” and “metal license plates, painted numbers cracked.”

In the fourth and final section of the book, titled “late bloomer,” Heartbreak is dealt with in strong metaphors. The poem “Tsunami” includes “She sinks, anchor\leaden, tide at low ebb,” and in “Growing” we read: “She has burned old letters that have seared\her with their heat.” There are also poems that celebrate the hopefulness and joy of a new relationship.

Perhaps the strongest metaphor, however, appears in the poem “Homesick.” The poet recalls “Gran’s arms\full of billowing shirts like cumulus fluttering\around her, tethered\by the clothespins in her hand.” I love the juxtaposition between the soft, ethereal clouds and the hard, practical clothespins. This poem also acts as an echo to the gorgeous cover image, “Red Sky at Evening” by painter Frances Werry.

The fact that prairie people often deal with spring floods is addressed in several of Hobsbawn-Smith’s poems. The observant poet watches the landscape drown, and she smells “the funk\of algae bloom” from her studio. Consider the power in this: “You use your grandfather’s rusted\Model A as a gauge,\water now six inches from its roof — it floats\where last year, cattle grazed.” With typical prairie resolve, however, she contends that “What comes\comes.”

Wildness Rushing In is a poetic account of the fluctuating seasons of one’s life: the good, the bad, the creatures (Hobsbawn-Smith gives birds and horses extra attention), the personalities, the landscapes, and the everyday occurrences that play out beneath the “high blue tent” that is the sky. Kudos to the author and publisher, Hagios Press.


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