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by Evie Christie

While it’s not yet clear whether confession is, in fact, good for the soul (the eschatological jury is still out), one thing is clear: the confessional mode has resulted in a lot of bad poetry. Thankfully, Gutted, the debut collection from Toronto poet Evie Christie, manages to avoid most of the pitfalls and clichés of confessional poetry, despite its roots in the approach.

Gutted is an emotional travelogue, a helter-skelter Bildungsroman moving from a semi-rural girlhood to boisterous contemporary life, love, and heartbreak in downtown Toronto. While Christie occasionally succumbs to too-poetic excesses (“In the Cold Months,” for example, which describes “food served from the rare and hoarded porcelain/of grandmothers”), most of Christie’s poems benefit from an almost brutal frankness. Christie writes with a plainspoken directness, in largely unadorned free verse that’s nonetheless capable of jarring the reader with sudden, unexpected metaphor and imaginative leaps.

The poems here are thematically strong, if formally straightforward. “Twenty Fifth Birthday Suit” shifts effortlessly from a rigorous self-examination to an extended intimation of the speaker’s mortality. “Letters Addressed to 745 Palmerston Avenue,” meanwhile, charts the slow dissolution of a friendship through the titular correspondence. Throughout the book, Christie deftly captures the violence and victims of contemporary urban life with a cutting verisimilitude and keen familiarity.

Gutted is not the sort of poetry volume that is likely to win prizes, since it largely lacks stylistic daring and formal experimentation. It is, however, a confident and winning collection that will make a genuine connection with its readers – a trick substantially more difficult to pull off. This is the sort of poetry that will actually be read, rather than admired from afar.


Reviewer: Robert J. Wiersema

Publisher: ECW Press


Price: $16.95

Page Count: 80 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 1-55022-710-6

Released: Nov.

Issue Date: 2006-1

Categories: Poetry