Reviewed by Ronnie R. Brown
first published in Verse Afire, January 2020.
For the Love of Lazaros
by Susan Ioannou
Opal Editions, 54 pp.
paper ISBN 978-0-920835-53-1, 2019
eBook eISBN 978-0-920835-57-9, 2021
Susan Ioannou is a name very familiar to readers of all aspects of Canadian Writing—children’s literature, fiction, non-fiction, reviewing and, of course, poetry. However, in her recent poetry collection, For the Love of Lazaros, Ioannou offers up to the reader a very special and enigmatic work “in memory,” as the back cover notes, “of more than 50 years together.” As the lush floral cover (forget-me-nots?) foreshadows and the dedication confirms, the four sections of this collection describe the beginning, mid-sections and end of a long-lasting relationship.
In her biographical outline on the Internet, Ioannou speaks of her writing as a “meditative process,” one in which she likes to incorporate the “details of everyday life.” Using various poetic forms—lyric, sonnet, haiku and haiku-like short forms—she draws a picture of a relationship that began “Far Back,” until her partner was taken from her by the “Wild Wind.”
Ioannou does not rely on a narrative format, but rather has either chosen or written pieces which she feels exemplify the nature of the stages of this relationship: from the early days in which she urges her partner to “Compare me to the patter rain, / yourself unto the sun” (“Complementary”) to “Quarrel” in the second section, entitled “Shadows,” where she speaks of prying, “…away my heart and, like a gnarled tree, / ice-hard resist the winds of your requests”/.
Particularly powerful are the haikus which allow the reader to stop and consider a brief moment in time (as haikus should.) These short pieces remind the reader of the tiny moments in life we all remember, just as we remember small moments in a relationship. Pieces such as “ Silence, morning mist. / Beside the hedge a black cat. / Fallen leaf quivers.”// allow the reader to pause and focus, just as this collection focuses on a memorable life lived together.
For the Love of Lazaros, which ends with a quote from the wedding ceremony (as found in The Book of Common Prayer), and a wedding day photograph of the couple captioned only “August 28, 1967,” relies on the reader to use the details the poetry presents and piece together a love story that lasted for over fifty years. A moving collection which ends with poems of “Loss,” “Grieving” and the heart-achingly beautiful poem, “Afterwards,” which leaves the reader with “…promises strewn on the wind.” This book is also available at amazon.ca.