Querying the Quiet |Review of “The Quiet” by Anne-Marie Turza (2014) House of Anansi Press


We have all experience moments around us when things are quiet. A hush surrounds us and we become lost in our thoughts until a little sound disturbs us. Or we are in a very noisy situations for a continuous period and we seek out a moment of quiet and solitude. Anne-Marie Turza has considered those moments and has placed them in her collection of poetry called The Quiet.

The Quiet – ii:i (Page 33)

We lived in that quiet, above megrims in second storey

windows, painted our mouths with ketchup, our eyelids

with sweet relish, wore singlets made from the dyed hair

of miniature horses. Evenings, we lit candles. Chanted

in Latin. Adsum, adsum, a capite ad cacem. Mostly we

didn’t know what we were saying. We lived there for years,

shared our beds with the mouths of beetles. In that quiet,

tender with attention, our faces swollen, the stung backs

of our knees, our bitten heels.

Turza has captured a universal experience for many people here but many may take those quiet moments for granted.  She has collected her thoughts well here, easily having any reader capture the images she has created with their mind’s eye.

i:iii (page 7)

Within every city are unseen cities, intangible walls and alleys: a voice, on afternoon on the raido, addressed its audience. Rats too are historiographers, said the voice, the voice of a rat specialist. Come hydraulic hammers and hoe rams, come rubble, Rats thread the empty plots between ghost buildings, following old paths to their nests as if the walls still stand. In this city of brick and limestone where you and I are sleeping. Every night, traversing pathways  that seem no longer to exist.

Turza also takes us down roads that seem strange to us, but then illuminates the way with familiar signs.

Anthem For A Small Country (Page 26)

In my country we admire the ambitious dust: long into the night,

for endless hours, it practices such gentleness on the window’s sill.

Our country’s flower is the rose in the curved bed of the fingernail

And there is a surreal-type of grace here in these words as well. It is a pleasure to read and to contemplate the thoughts surrounding the words.

On Sleep (Page 49)

Have you never met, in passing, a stranger who addressed you knowingly? “You can’t sleep well, in your language,” a woman once told me, pipe smoke seeping from the bowl of her vowels. I was reading a book with a soft cloth cover, a monograph on the water beetle, waiting for a train in the glass-domed station, the pages stippled with dust. The woman pointed to a table where a man sat eating almonds from a green bowl. “In my language I can put that table anywhere.” Pardon me?, I said. Already, the table, drifting upwards; tendrils of the man’s hair, on end; the smooth soles of his shoes, eighth notes rising overhead. A rain of almonds from the high dome where birdshapes turn millwheel in the  gathered clangour of the trains. To sleep well, not in this language.

The Quiet by Anne-Marie Turza is a collection that is enlightening a filled with grace. A perfect read for a quiet moment.


Link to House of Anansi’s page for The Quiet

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