August, Poetry, Reviews
Comments 4

#BookReview | Panicle by Gillian Sze

pan·i·cle (noun) — a loose, branching cluster of flowers, as in oats.

Blurb: In Panicle, Gillian Sze makes her readers look and, more importantly, look again. It’s a collection that challenges our notion of seeing as a passive or automatic activity by asking us to question the process of looking. The book’s first section, “Underway,” deals with the moving image and includes both poetic responses to film theory and lyrical long poems while also reimagining fairy tales. The next section, “Stagings,” takes its inspiration from the still image and explores a wide range of periods, movements, and media. Sze’s focus on the process of looking anticipates “Guillemets,” a creative translation of Roland Giguère’s 1966 chapbook, Pouvoir du Noir, which contains a series of poems accompanied by his own paintings. Sze’s approach to Giguère is two-fold: she “translates” his text, and artist Jessica Hiemstra provides a visual response to her translation. The final section, “Panicle,” continues the meditative quality of “Guillemets” in a suite of poems that ruminate on nature, desire, and history.

Publication date: 19 September 2017 | Publisher: ECW Press | 90 pages

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

 This is a beautiful work of poetry. I suppose I’m a bit picky when it comes to poetry, so I was especially impressed with this one. It was intelligent, emotional, sumptuously and languidly written.

The poems are narrative in nature, inspired by a quote, poet, or a piece of art. (There is a “Notes” section at the back of the book to let you know what quote/poet/artwork inspired that poem.) It is fascinating to see the inspiration behind these poems, and get a deeper insight into them.

“I bared the skull of a dandelion in a blow

and they still

can’t really say

if black is in the hollows of its eyes

or, they ask, is it in the air?”

The themes running throughout this collection all come together in the poem “Panicle,” towards the end of the book. Sze brings beautiful imagery to mind in her poetry, and I’m so glad to have found a new poet to love!



  1. Pingback: This Week in Books | 08.23.17 #twib | Darcy's Book Blog

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