Maureen Hynes, in her fifth book of poetry, speaks tenderly yet vehemently about the threatened worlds that concern her. From Toronto, where she lives and walks the city’s afflicted watershed, she turns her attention to the near and far, shifting it from the First Nations’ stolen lands to Syria and the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean; from the deaths of family and friends to the newborns into whose care our endangered planet will pass; and from love’s transient regrets to the sustaining love two women share. Hynes’ is a gaze that grieves quietly, delights humbly, and, in the search for solace, never rests. Each poem in Sotto Voce is a recitative of healing. Hear the music in every word and, despite the damaged environments Hynes gives voice to, be restored. This is a book that bears witness to the “dynamite stick of injustice,” one that balances fear and hope, gathering themes of history and human migration; of climate change and the pleasures of natural beauty; of women’s lives, both straight and queer; and finally, good fortune and renewal. Sotto Voce carries the complexity and seriousness of its themes lightly – it’s important to know when to speak loudly, and when to whisper.
Maureen Hynes lives in Toronto. Her first book of poetry, Rough Skin (Wolsak and Wynn, 1995), won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry by a Canadian. Her second collection, Harm’s Way (Brick Books, 2001), was followed by Marrow, Willow (Pedlar Press, 2011) and then The Poison Colour (Pedlar Press, 2015), which was a finalist for both the League of Canadian Poets’ Pat Lowther Award and Raymond Souster Award. She is poetry editor for Our Times magazine. Sotto Voce is Maureen’s fifth poetry collection.