Review by Theresa Wolfwood. Director of the Barnard-Boecker Center Foundation, Victoria, BC, Canada.
Chamber’s latest of five volumes of poems expresses her enduring passion for the people and land she loves so deeply. “She Draws the Rain” is her finest collection yet with poems that speak powerfully to our connection to nature and our human environment.
Many of her poems are rooted in her island life surrounded by the Salish Sea, but her feelings for people and particularly for her mother as she leaves this world are heart rending and universal in their understanding of loss – even before death. “In the end/her hands were/like bundles of cottonwood twigs;/ long and curving,/knotted joints. She was deep in/the business of dying/”
Not many poets can express the futility and insanity of war in so few and sure words as Chambers does in ‘Silence’.
“Silence is not/another word for peace./…We welcome the wailing newborns to this world of wonders,/ and plow under the blood and bones./…”
She can be thinking about war even as the close natural world pulls her attention; she can feel for the immediate and visible while reflecting on situations and issues elsewhere. She weaves it all together, seamlessly as she lives, observing, contemplating and acting without disconnection.
In the poem, “Owl and Snake”, her conversation about war and the poor while listening to Bach is interrupted by robins attacking an invading owl, “flinching as they ruffle/her head feathers, holding fast/unblinking gaze/on us./ Until it sees a slither in the grass below/ and wings unfolding, floats/down on a hapless garter snake/lifts it writhing/ and flies out,/as silent as it came.
Owl and snake/the double paradigm/and we talk while Bach/plays on.
Chambers never wastes a word, every single word is weighted with images and meaning, This is a volume to savour; to read Chambers is to be transported to her profound vision and rare insight into a familiar world.