Salvaging beauty from grief's wreckage in the towns and wilds of post-cod Newfoundland.
"from this sea I am fished, / gutted and stripped, / bled and bound, / on your ship I sail, / or go down."
A Lovely Gutting echoes with the music of traditional nature poetry, but its romantic style is ripped by rawness. These poems - enraged and erotic, tormented and tender - swirl around the pain of personal loss, ebbing and surging like the North Atlantic.
Durnford pictures a Newfoundland not found in postcards. Her verse roams an island only half-wild, a ramshackle world of crumbling outports and post-industrial landscapes. In one town, the site of a former US Air Force base, stands a crumbling theatre of "piss-stained crushed velvet seats," the ghost of Mae West still lingering. The ocean no longer spits up cod but the view is strangely sublime.
A startling collection from a talented new voice in Canadian poetry, A Lovely Gutting splits open the guts of grief. It is an unflinching meditation on the loss of a culture and a father and on the struggle to preserve and honour what remains.