Herizons Review - Burning in this Midnight Dream

Reviewed by: Herizons

Written in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Louise Bernice Halfe's latest collection, Burning in this Midnight Dream, is formidable, sorrowful and fierce. These poems feel otherwordly, weaving in family stories and recollections and others' emotions and experiences alongside the poet's own. In "Winter Visitations" she writes, "I am often filled with ghosts/ that glide through my body./ They have no business intruding/ into thought or work at hand."

The book features old photographs of family members, some of whom who are long deceased. Photos such as those of Halfe as a young girl with family members are very moving in combination with the haunting poems.

These are profound wounds pulled from, as the poet notes, "the back alley of my thoughts" and entailing a gruelling, shamanistic battle with individual and collective memories. With deep wisodm and insight, the poems struggle towards healing and revelation, confronting familial tolls and the intergenerational consequences of residential schools. "I had heard it is so much easier/ to drown or infect my liver/ with wine, needles and dark alleys./ Swim into these tears/ unconscious, yet awake./ Dance with these cannibals," writes Halfe. "It is better to dance/ with memory/ than be noosed by the gut."

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