So. Welcome to the first VoV Book Review Post.
I decided to start with a piece by a local poet. Rhonda Douglas is an Ottawa gal, although she’s originally from Grand Bank, Nfld. She’s won a slew of prizes – from the Gregory J. Power Poetry Contest to the Far Horizons Award for Poetry to the Diana Brebner Prize – and has been published across Canada and also in New Zealand.
The book in question is Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems, which was published by Signature Editions in 2008.
This is the story of the Fall of Troy, but not only the Fall of Troy, as told from the point of view of Cassandra, the prophet-princess to-whom no-one listened.
The poems talk about rape, about denial, about religion, about resolve.
There are a number of pieces presented by the Chorus – found poems and pieces constructed out of clichés, the things random strangers think it’s appropriate to say to a woman, to a girl. These are some of my favourite pieces in the book. “On Gods” and “On Self-Improvement”, in particular.
I also like pieces like “A List of Things Carried by the Women on Their One Allotted Day”, the un/subtle song of what each item means, might mean, might cause, why it’s dangerous for a slave to dress herself well; or “Loneliness of Frogs” and “Water Will Leave You Like a Lover”, two of the prophecy poems that touch on Y2K, environmental degradation, and the scramble to unmake our own mistakes.
I like this book. The poems flow well together, and you get a good sense of the voices of both the characters and the narrator. The first piece in the collection, “Imagining Cassandra”, ends with the words “I’m just saying you might // want to think about it // before you open the door”.
All warnings aside, I encourage you to let this story in.