South Shore Suite…POEMS offers a selection of narrative and lyric poems arranged in four sections. The eponymous “South Shore Suite” emerged from JC’s posting a line of poetry a day on her blog for a year. “Second Nature” focuses a wider lens on the natural world. “Cameo Appearances” draws poems from interviews JC conducted with people in different professions about life choices they made. The final section, “Cradle to Grave,” contains poems closest to JC’s personal experience.
a fox with dance and a feint
claims cliffs and shoreline
as his own, hoists his standard:
red on aqua silk, rampant.
his audience at ringside,
watch the tournament:
spike-crowned Mergansers en garde,
the thrust and parry of waves.
Waters play restless
even at this no-tide shore.
They lap, slap and clap ‘til
midnight calm returns
summoned by the call of wolves.
This review first appeared in the March 2018 Glebe Report:
"J.C. Sulzenko tells us in the introduction to her soulful and varied poetry collection, South Shore Suite … POEMS, that the inspiration to gather her poems together from the past four decades was Canada’s sesquicentennial celebration. These poems not only celebrate this Canadian milestone but also one Canadian woman’s life, her appreciation of nature, her empathetic recording of other lives and her awareness of time’s passing. To do this, she divides the collection into four segments, the first and second being a meditation on the role of nature in a life spent in observation and appreciation, the third illustrates her keen observation of character in a segment appropriately entitled “Cameo Appearances,” and in the fourth she looks at aspects of time, creating a sense of closure for the collection as a whole. Sulzenko sees in nature and in particular the landscape of Prince Edward County, the symmetry and wide, overarching beauty that defines and limits our lives. Many of her poems are inspired by the quiet certainty of haiku, by its ability to slow life to an image that points to the miraculous and capture the frozen essence of a moment. Her touch here is gentle and fine, and perfect for the intent of poem...
This is a collection that rewards the reader with its careful, precise and often-beautiful rendition of those elements in life that enclose us: nature, other people and the progress of time. As she writes: “when it falls to death, the line between/what’s real and what you hope for/breaks you.”
As readers we thank Sulzenko for honouring Canada’s 150th by gathering her poems into this enlightening collection and for her clear-sighted vision of our human condition."