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The Thing With Feathers, Elizabeth Zetlin's new book of poetry from BuschekBooks, opens with a photograph of a garden gate, or a metaphor of a garden gate, that opens into a field, that is the garden of her imagination, in which these poems have been seeded, watered and grown. These poems celebrate the ordinary stuff of life: milk, marbles, commas, crows. It is her gift as a poet that transforms them into the extraordinary. In her poem " Sweet Red Peppers", she begins, "Isn't it funny how much time passes/before you do the things you promise yourself./ Like show your mother how to roast red peppers, or ask her/ if she's afraid of dying."

Later there is a badminton game played "on burdock, field daisies, hollows/ and elbows of stone." In "Sitting, there is "my father's armchair, the one he died in" where she "sat with grief and ginger tea." Then in "Gathering of Crows" these dark birds arrive, "black as ice, magic, sheep, pepper, moods."

She takes her title from the middle section of the book; her poems of hope, that ordinary thing, which becomes "a horny outgrowth of the heart."

She again transforms the ordinary in her glosa, " What is Poetry?" she asks the question, then answers it: " burnt sienna, whisker of grass,/ wind scent, stumble of ochre."

In "No Need", she returns to the stars: "A great film maker brings up dreams./ In dreams, he says, things happen/without strain. We sing and dance/ extremely well and swim the butterfly/like boneless angels./ One is accepted by, and is accepting,/of strangers and the dead./Dreams swim among stars,/trust their skeletons' yearning...."

These fine and luminous poems are filled with hope, these are poems in fine feather, these are poems that swim among the stars. They transform us.

— by Wendy Morton


Wendy Morton's third book of poetry, Shadowcatcher, will be published in the spring of 2005. This follows her other books, Private Eye and Undercover. She likes to read poems to strangers, and in 2004 started National Random Acts of Poetry Week, believing that there were 26 other poets across Canada who would like to do the same. They did. Liz Zetlin was one of them.

Elizabeth Zetlin's works copyright © to the author.

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