Between Cup & Lip

By Bert Almon

A review of Between Cup & Lip by Jean Mallinson

Published on April 1, 2004

Between Cup & Lip
Jean Mallinson

Morgaine House
$15.95
paper
90pp
0-9732787-0-6

In Between Cup & Lip, Jean Mallinson is feisty, angry, tender: a full range of emotions. Her tropes are fresh, sometimes startling, as befits a writer who has found that life has many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip – a cliche she has made new. She likes to explore cosmology – to imagine a teaspoon in a black hole, for example – and she has a poem on the inability of the hummingbird to see us, thanks to its metabolic rate. She has some grievances and writes a few too many poems about a despised ex-husband. (Does she hate him? Let her count the ways!) But this poet can find amusing metaphors for a bad marriage:

 

Having disentangled my limbs
from the Hermaphroditic embrace
where we were hobbled like ill-matched
children
in a May-day sack race,
I now have two arms, two legs
and walk at my own pace.

Mallinson clearly thinks through metaphors rather than using them as decoration. Some of the metaphors are overworked, especially the cosmological ones, and the occasional poem seems too trivial, such as the one about Canadian postal codes and another about dealing with garden slugs. Her poems on the psychology of anorexia are not trivial at all: they succeed because she rises above the usual journalistic case study and finds metaphors for feelings. She resuscitates the overworked expression “wallflower” by describing the anorexic as “espaliered” against the wall at the high school dance, her verb-form inducing the reader to look at the original metaphor, which has fossilized into triteness. mRb

Bert Almon lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retired from teaching, he follows the careers of his former students.

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