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by Anne Simpson

Loop is East Coast poet and novelist Anne Simpson’s second book of poetry. Her first, Light Falls Through You, was the winner of both the Atlantic Poetry Prize and the 2001 League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry. No surprise then that Loop contains luminously written vignettes that demonstrate a fine sense of poetic craft.

The vignettes are drawn out and shaped by Simpson’s adroit rendering of image. Her images can be bold and striking or quiet and softly contoured, but image remains the pivot around which these poems turn. In “Seven Paintings by Brueghel,” Simpson crafts images inspired by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, using as her starting point photographs of the WTC landfill site. In another series, “Gesture Drawings,” Simpson sketches quick studies on a variety of themes, including that of drawing itself: “Draw not just one part of it, but the whole. Yes, even the three-dimensional/way someone turns, blinking away tears.”

In the most formally experimental poem, “Möbius Strip,” Simpson tests the visual (and contextual) flexibility of the line as image. Printed over 10 pages, the poem contains only two lines per page, with a horizontal bar separating the lines from one another. The poem that is created by reading across the top line of each page is mirrored, in reverse, across the bottom line, so that combined, the two form a poetic möbius strip that keeps turning and returning on it-self, as Simpson intimates in her opening (and closing) line: “How it starts, how it ends: a wild tuft in the sky, a cloud. This blue.”

The line that does not end, but continually loops on itself, is one that interests Simpson as a representation for the endlessly looping themes of human life. Or as she writes in another poem: “And beyond,/all that happened/keeps happening….”

With its strong lyric voice and simple yet dynamic forms, Loop is a collection that draws you and draws you in. Simpson’s intelligent poetic language renders, in three dimensions, images of compelling resonance, which makes this book one that you want to read – and then read again.


Reviewer: Heather Fitzgerald

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart


Price: $16.99

Page Count: 96 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 0-7710-8075-1

Issue Date: 2003-3

Categories: Poetry