A review of Let Me Go! by Anne Claire Poirier
Published on October 1, 2006
Let Me Go!
Anne Claire Poirier
Anne Claire Poirier’s book deals with absence and death in a very literal way. The Quebec filmmaker’s daughter, Yanne, a heroin addict, was murdered at the age of 26. Guernica has published an English translation of the text written by Poirier and Marie-Claire Blais for the film about Yanne, Let Me Go!
It is hard for a reader without a French text to judge this very plainly written work as poetry, but as an outcry it is wrenching. When the daughter took up with a junkie, she told her mother, “Let me go, please let me go!” These words are imagined as Yanne’s last utterance, spoken to the man who killed her. The text struggles with unanswerable personal questions about mother-daughter conflicts, and with social ones about the motives for drug use and the possibilities of ending the drug trade. Where the text clearly rises to poetry is in the valediction at the end, written not to forbid mourning but to let it run its natural course. She imagines her daughter, rather surprisingly, as a radiant iceberg:
The ice floe breaks away from the glacier,
the iceberg breaks away from the ice floe
and floats down
toward a place of transformation.
I saw them superb and majestic,
radiant in the sun,
twelve thousand years of ice
melting back into the sea!
After that farewell, the mother believes that she can indeed let her daughter go, through not without tenderness and enduring grief. mRb
Bert Almon lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Retired from teaching, he follows the careers of his former students.