The House You Were Born In

The House You Were Born In

A review of The House You Were Born In by Tanya Standish McIntyre

Published on March 16, 2023

Out of the half-wild mystery of rural homesteads and roadside forests in Tanya Standish McIntyre’s poetry emerges another mystery of multi-generational memory curled into her own country childhood – rich with imagination, a thoughtful eye, and her grandfather’s reliably comforting presence. Among the teeming spring-fed culverts and green copses are young people (including her own mother) who grew up and into local marriages, bound to limitations even in these wide-open spaces. 

The studied womanly art never meant to be

perfected, of reconciling resignation

with acceptance, linking back

to the distant past, looping around

to present…

Tanya Standish McIntyre The House You Were Born In

The House You Were Born In
Tanya Standish McIntyre

McGill-Queen's University Press
$17.95
paper
120pp
9780228014645

In these rural Quebec landscapes, Standish McIntyre paints a socially constructed working class divide where the right words, skills, and education are said to point the way up and forward – even though the value and scope of country knowledge is vast and communally held, as cataloged in the poem “Subject Matter” and others:

 

My grandfather and I talk

……………………about things like this

…………………………………..and worlds and worlds more

while the rest 

…………………..go for silly Sunday drives

and think I must be bored.

 

The worlds of Standish McIntyre’s poems are themselves wide, with plenty of room to move freely, even when they glimpse into regretful pasts and heartbreaking deaths. That sense of liveliness and freedom imparts critical distance and empathy rather than judgment, aligning the natural cycles of life and death with life-altering tragedy and sorrows – everything may pass, but that doesn’t mean it disappears from all memory or the earth. 

 

now, no one remembers it but me and how the perfect

ding-dong of the green front-doorbell

is whorled in a two-note helix with some filament

of my brain, but gone

 

as though it never was, is the way 

you said my name.

mRb
Robyn Fadden is a writer and editor based in Montreal. Formerly Arts Editor at weekly Hour, Robyn is Managing Editor of Delve at McGill University and a contributor to mtl.org and CKUT 90.3FM, where she continues to extol the city and its creative forces.

Comments

1 Comment

  1. Levine Joel

    It is a lovely review of a marvelous book of connected poems. Connected by a unique sense of the right word, just right as evocation. A gift of a book and one of the most compelling first collections i have ever read.
    Standish McIntyre has a genuine gift….gently seeing inside the life and the person. It is a sweet and powerful brilliance.

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