Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Second Blush, by Molly Peacock: A review

A series of reviews of books by authors featured at our 2010 May 9 through May 11 Veterinary Medicine and Literature conference. These books will be available at the Bookshelf in Guelph, Ontario for the conference.

Go to Molly Peacock's websiteThe Second Blush. By Molly Peacock. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2008. 85 pp. Paper $17.99.

Reviewed by Marie-France Boissonneault, PhD, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Molly Peacock’s The Second Blush is a collection of poems that captures life’s everyday routines with a reflective and emotional depth. The book is divided into four sections with each part exploring a socio-psychological or philosophical facet of relationships, love, and marriage. Peacock has a notable propensity for highlighting errors as is especially evident in The Cliffs of Mistake in the opening section to her closing poem The Flaw. Each section within Peacock’s quartet concentrates on a familiar emotional meeting point from loss, friendship, conflict, and devotion. Her poetry has an inspired quality that allows the reader to gain personal insight and perspective into matters that may haunt or illustrate their own lives.

In the first section of her book, Peacock addresses the theme of ‘a domesticated life’. From picnics to dishpans, she appears to question her own actions and that of others through a deep contextualisation of human behaviour. In The Cliffs of Mistake, Peacock paints a vivid metaphorical image to illustrate our inability to always gage the repercussions of our choices. She probes the reader to examine their own actions and contemplates the interpretative importance of allegorical reflection. As many readers and analysts invariably experience in their own lives, a seemingly mundane event can act as a trigger to explore underlying questions of one’s being, behaviours or relationships. Peacock eloquently manoeuvres through familiar liaisons and draws the reader to join in thought with her lyrical examinations of daily life. Ferocity in a Dishpan is an especially fine example of how Peacock takes a seemingly mundane event and transforms it into a moment of self-reflection.

The second section of The Second Blush invites the reader to examine the more intense nature and complexity of close relationships. Peacock highlights themes that are common to the individual experience such as personal conflict and its resolution, emotional pain or trauma, and the acknowledgment of one’s feelings and personal perceptions. In this part of the book, Peacock closely examines some more poignant experiences without the use of figurative language to veil the difficult subject matter that she confronts.

However, as we move into the third section, we are refreshed from the cathartic experience of the previous section, and travel into the security of moments and relationships that bring us comfort, remind us of the importance of our emotional bonds, and highlight the difficulties that make up the tapestry of our memories. Equally, Peacock’s fourth and final section offers solace in the act of remembrance as is evident in Quick Kiss and as is illustrated through the humour of passionate encounters in Our Minor Art. In Marriage, Peacock recognises the influence of people in our lives who may be overlooked or easily pushed to the wayside. She demonstrates how we are shaped by the presence of those who love us and who we love.

Peacock has the gift of enticing her readers to attach their own experiences and memories to the grace of her words. Her work is clever, rich, and delicate enough for her audience to either accept her illustrative language, or equally participate in sketching their own unique image, perceptions, experiences and memories. The Second Blush is a collection of works that tempts the reader beyond the role of spectator to personally engage and metaphorically sail away in search of meaning, and reel in the recollection of the events that mark, enrich, and contribute to the human condition.

Molly Peacock will be doing a public reading the evening of May 9 at the Veterinary Medicine and Literature Symposium, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph.

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