Pause for Breath

Pause for Breath

By Bert Almon

A review of Pause For Breath by Robyn Sarah

Published on March 1, 2010

Pause For Breath
Robyn Sarah


Robyn Sarah’s poems in Pause for Breath engage the textures of daily life rather than philosophy. In fact, in “Run With It,” she compares the theories of philosophers to sticks discarded by dogs on their way home. Although Sarah is one of our best poets, this collection is too bland, a pit stop in her career – or, to play with its title, a pause to take breath. Friends meet on a winter street and exchange pleasantries, a leaf clings to a tree, a sneeze gets a page and a quarter of description, but such moments don’t often yield Sarah’s signature epiphanies. Sometimes the images do work well, as in the final poem where a bee buzzes the knuckle of the speaker, who feels the infinitesimal breeze of its wings all day. And in a poem about November, the poet describes chopping vegetables and savours a stub of a vegetable, tasting “the ghost of a rose / in the core of the carrot” – a superb image. The poems would have benefited from greater formal demands. One of the most successful poems is a sonnet, “Blowing the Fluff Away,” in which a brown and brittle sprig of bloom covered with fluff turns out to have genuine flowers underneath. There is too much fluff in Pause for Breath, but no doubt the poet still has access to “the tiny, perfect flowers” of her talent. mRb

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



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

More Reviews

The North Star

The North Star

Julian Sher's historical tome shows the Canadian and Montreal connections to the U.S. Civil War, on the Confederate side.

By Jocelyn Parr

A House Without Spirits

A House Without Spirits

David Homel’s novel about a forgotten photographer is a deep dive into memory, trauma, and art.

By Michel Hardy-Vallée