REVIEW: A JAR OF FIREFLIES | BY JOSIE DI SCIASCIO-ANDREWS

Mosaic Press | 108 pages | September 2015 | $15.95 | Purchase online
Review by Debbie Okun Hill, originally published in Verse Afire and on Debbie Okun Hill’s blog.

Canadian poet Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews collects memories like she collects sea glass along the shore. It’s her quiet polishing of word gems that first drew me to her work in 2008 when her chapbook The Whispers of Stones was released by Beret Days Press.

In her latest poetry book, A Jar of Fireflies (Mosaic Press, 2015), she continues to collect the past and states that “memories light up the landscapes of our nights like fireflies”. Themes inspired by her familial remembrances, nature, love, flowers and dreams dominate this collection. What makes her work shine is her ability to pull in the reader with both her narrative style and sparkling-fresh metaphors. Three examples include: “summer days split open/like slices of ripe watermelon”, “the leaves are velvet tongues” and “I strike a match on stone/and memory ignites it to diamond.”

Fans of Di Sciascio-Andrews’ work will recognize such favourites as “Sea Glass” where memories are broken and scattered and fused back again and “Immigrants Fishing on the Oakville Pier” where “Across the lake, white sails/Bite the sky’s pale lip./A regatta of shark’s teeth/Aimed at the unsuspecting neck of night.”

Her poetry has been shortlisted for the 2013 Descant’s Winston Collins Best Canadian Poem Prize and the 2014 The Malahat Review’s Open Seasons Award. These and other award-winning poems are seamlessly woven with never before seen work to present a strong album of heartfelt and layered messages: “Behind me hangs the dream of you.”

Housed in a “blue daiquiri” painted cover with golden fireflies, her poetic work is showcased like framed petals on fancy crème paper, “like sunlit glass in her hands”.

Debbie Okun Hill is a Canadian poet/blogger/freelance writer with poems published in such journals as Descant, Existere, Other Voices, The Literary Review of Canada, The Windsor Review, and Vallum. Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014) is her first trade book. Her 7-page essay “Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews: Memories in the Sand” was recently published in Exploring Voice: Italian Canadian Female Writers, a Special Issue of Italian Canadiana Volume 30 (2016) edited by Venera Fazio and Delia De Santis. A blog post about Josie appears here.