Review: For the Love of Lazaros by Susan Ioannou

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